To snowbird, or not to snowbird? This is a big grandparenting question. As we get older, it’s easy to get tired of the snow and weather of the northern parts and think dreamily about beaches and palm trees. Not having to fight the battles of snowdrifts and inclement weather with less physical strength has some appeal. For some, fleeing harsher climate areas and going south to warm and consistent weather may be a good decision. For others, not so much. Let’s walk through a few reasons there may be great value in foregoing year-round great weather and staying near your Grands.
The Value of Staying Near
The Benefit of Time
The single most valuable thing in my mind is the opportunity to share in-person time to know, love, and influence your Grands. Nothing replaces time spent together over the course of years. The small intimacies and comforts of deep relationships establish naturally with time and familiarity. Proximity allows for being together during everyday activities like doing dishes, laundry, or cleaning the house. Conversations occur during those times that help us know our Grands better. While we’re at it, we are doing the next thing on my list.
The Opportunity to Teach
Proximity brings the opportunity to share and teach. It’s amazing how kids will listen to grandparents. We can share experiences, family history, faith and life lessons, and perhaps even advice in times of trouble. When I think of this part of being near, more and more frequently my thoughts turn to the fact that someone will teach our Grands what to value and how to behave. Will it be their parents and us, or someone else?
The Value of Staying Near Dispels Loneliness
The third benefit of being near our Grands that I want to share today is the opportunity to dispel some of the loneliness of old age. Loneliness is a common complaint among older people. Children grow up and move out to live their own lives, contemporaries begin to pass away, as do spouses, and over time our social circle may get smaller. It’s a daunting prospect for anyone to consider. True, we can find some comfort in a circle of friends in a retirement community. But there’s something special about family.
Our Grands are a part of us, unlike any other friend we’ll ever meet. They are connected by birth, blood, and shared experiences. If we choose to invest in our Grands, the rewards of watching them grow, helping them along their journey in life, and building connections that will last into their adulthood and our old age, will be a solace and comfort. We’ll have a young circle of friends with whom to take comfort, share time, and rejoice in their developing lives. Loneliness is much eased by investing in the lives of our Grands!
Grandparenting choices are deeply personal. Not all families spend lots of time together across the generations. If you do or want to, I believe sticking close by is important. We can visit beaches and warmer climates in the coldest of the season, but there is so much value to sticking close to our Grands and not making it an extended absence from their young lives.
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