National Grandparents Day: connect generations for happier healthier lives

In February 1977, Senator Randolph, with the concurrence of many other senators, introduced a joint resolution to the senate requesting the president to "issue annually a proclamation designating the first Sunday of September after Labor Day of each year as 'National Grandparents' Day'." Congress passed the legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents' Day and, on August 3, 1978, then-President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation. The statute cites the day's purpose: " honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer".

Whether you are a grandparent or an adult who plays a part in raising or helping children. You are playing a vital role in the lives of others. This year Generations United, an organization that “acts as a catalyst for stimulating collaboration among aging, children, and youth organizations, providing a forum to explore areas of common ground while celebrating the richness of each generation” has a theme for grandparents day. They are asking the question: How will you look at connecting generations differently this Grandparents Day?  

Let’s take a look at why grandparents are so important and some ideas for activities this grandparents day that connect generations.

Why are grandparents important?

If you’re a grandparent or play a similar role as an adult in a younger person's life, you are probably a combination of a few of these; timekeeper, memory keeper, child care provider, life coach, friend, storyteller, expert chef, comedian, voice of reason, confidant, gift giver, biggest cheerleader. The question, “why are grandparents (we) important?”, is one that we don’t often ask because we are simply being ourselves, helping when we can and doing what we know. But our role is invaluable to our families and our communities. 

Grandparents provide an extra layer of support and guidance in a child's life, making life less stressful and more secure for the rest of their lives.  When spending one-on-one time with your grandchildren, you are probably giving a parent a much needed break. You remember being a parent, you still are one! It was exhausting at times, having toddlers and school-aged children. Mutually beneficial to you, parents, and children, a child is shaped by the relationship between themselves and their grandparents. Getting extra physical and emotional support that influences their values, beliefs, and ideas about themselves and the world. 

There are countless benefits of generational time spent between a grandchild and a grandparent, A 2014 study at Boston College found that “an emotionally close relationship between grandparent and grandchild is associated with fewer symptoms of depression for both generations. Children have a better sense of who they are and where they've come from. They have roots, a history, and a sense of continuity and perspective.

6 Awesome Activities for this Grandparents Day

No matter what, the best Grandparents Day activity involves you and your grandparents together, celebrating your family and each other.

By sharing your interests, skills, and hobbies, children are introduced to new activities and ideas. You can be a very patient, and effective teacher. Children will pick up from your knowledge, skills, and attitudes and this can stick with them through life more than those picked up from other sources. Plus, you benefit from time shared with grandchildren or spending time with younger generations. 

It isn’t just you as a teacher to your grandchildren. You will undoubtedly learn things from them as well! You can learn how to see things from a new perspective and they can teach you some pretty cool new technology. You may feel less depression and higher degrees of life satisfaction. Grandchildren are a fresh start, giving present life more meaning and more hope for the future.

Here are 6 great ideas for this grandparents day:

  • Teach your grandchild one of your favorite board games, card games, puzzles or riddles! Games are good for any age, they are fun, portable and challenge our minds in new ways. Passing down games from generation to generation reminds us that there are simple timeless ways to have fun.
  • Draw a family tree and discuss its branches, add pictures if you can! Creating a family tree is a great way to discuss memories, pass along stories and have a visual representation of the past. This is a great opportunity for you to teach a young person about their family.
  • Have a dinner, tea party, or cooking class together with healthy snacks and drinks! Teach each other your favorite recipes, explore a way to make it healthier together and discuss what you both know about how to make healthy dietary choices. Enjoy the food and your healthy recipes together.
  • Get active together! Go for a walk, bring your cameras, binoculars, your hat and sunscreen. Remember to wear good walking shoes and to be mindful of your feet. Many people find that talking while walking helps them to share more openly and solve problems faster.
  • Have them teach you a new smartphone app or computer game or resource! Make them the teacher - have them show you a glimpse into their world by sharing a new thing or ask them to help you troubleshoot a technology issue you’ve been having.
  • Reading together stimulates brain activity, connection and helps develop and build vocabulary and social skills. You can connect through literature at any age.

  • If you can’t be physically together. You can set up these activities virtually using FaceTime, zoom, or a number of virtual programs on a computer, smartphone or tablet.  For more ideas about how to live a healthy lifestyle with type 2 at any age, join our Facebook community - Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together.  Enjoy this grandparents day and thank you for making connections across generations which enrich lives and create strong values, experiences and healthy lives from generation to generation.