LM, San Francisco, writes: My husband loves having our grandchildren visit, but he doesn’t really get down to their level and do things with them. They are 6 and 9. He’s retired now, and I’d like to encourage him to be more active with them.
Have you spoken with him about the subject? Children used to be women’s domain, and men’s and women’s roles were assumed—but many men are now very active with their children. Your grandchildren are at wonderful ages—before the teen years bring new preoccupations. Assuming “granddad” is interested in being more actively involved with them, suggest some things he might enjoy doing with them to build those relationships? I suggest he do some activities with them without other adults, and even with each of them at different times.
Does your husband garden? Enjoy walking? Work with his hands? Does he cook? Is he still driving? Do you have a bus system where you live? Are there parks or historical sites near your home? Could they visit his former work site? The childrens’ school? While school-age children are very active and enjoy outdoor activities, they might also enjoy playing cards or board games, watching sports or nature TV, old movies, etc. (Although my granddad was busy in the fields—I have a cherished photo of him first-time plowing his North Dakota field in 1888. However, I loved walking the golf course with my dad, as he played golf, and going with him when he was surveying for roads and inspecting food processing plants!)
I think time spent together, doing things that provide opportunities for him to share some of his own experience, past and present–even routine things–will be enjoyed by the children. Parents are so often rushed and rushing these days, just the relaxed, shared activies with a caring grandparent—activities that allow for listening and talking together—are memorable times for children.
Lisa Freeman, grandparents.com, has posted some fun ideas for outdoor fun and learning: http://www.grandparents.com/gp/content/activitiesandevents/everyday-activities/article/easy-outdoor-science-projects.html
See #2, When grandchildren come to visit, for more ideas!