Teresa Rogers loves to ride motor bikes, build forts and sleep out in the tent.
“I’ve been ziplining,” she says. “I’ll do whatever they do.”
It’s not peer pressure driving 64-year-old Teresa; it’s intergenerational relationship building. The brick-and-mortar is active engagement with an 18-year-old granddaughter and three grandsons, ages 12, 11 and 7, whom she and husband Perry see regularly.
“We go on trips together,” says Teresa, a resident of Oakland, Nebraska, who also has a home in Lincoln where the grandkids live. “We’ve been to the mountains, the beach…”
Proud of her home’s designated Nerf gun and Harry Potter closets, the retired fourth-grade teacher says a close grandparent-grandchild relationship keeps her and her husband “young, active and up-to-date.”
Michael Vance, Ph.D., director of behavioral health services at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, says all parties benefit from regular grandparent-grandchild interaction: “There’s a very healthy stage of aging called ‘generativity,’ where the elderly feel like they’re valued, contributing and giving back to the next generation. You want generativity versus stagnation. It gives kids more of a feeling of a village, more people showing them unconditional love, which surely doesn’t hurt.”
Omaha’s Dan and Stephanie Gruber treasure their solid relationship with their grandkids, ages 10 years, 6 years and 21 months – and they are continually working (and playing) to develop it.
“Squirt gun or Nerf gun engagements occasionally break out between myself and the older two grandchildren,” says Dan, 62, longtime director of children’s ministry at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Omaha.
For him, grandparent bond-building began immediately.
“When they were babies, I started connections by changing diapers and rocking them in my recliner at nap time,” Dan says. “Telling a grandchild you love them is important. … Eating meals together helps grow relationships. During meals, I listen more and talk less.”
The Grubers are big fans of cooking and baking with the older grandkids, saying it “builds confidence and allows time to speak into the life of a grandchild.”
Teresa says that’s what it comes down to – time: “You just can’t replace time. You have to capture it while you can.”
Sir Paul McCartney has four grandchildren from his daughter Stella – Miller, Bailey, Beckett and Reiley, who are between the ages of 11 and 16, and has four grandchildren from his daughter Mary between the ages of 10 and 22 – Arthur, Elliot, Sid and Sam.
Paul says that he is “pretty normal” when it comes to his relationship with his eight grandchildren despite his fame, and like so many of us, he often goes on holiday with the grandkids.
Sir Paul, 79, told Chris Evans on his Virgin Radio Breakfast Show that he is a “terrific” grandparent, adding: “You know, I love them and I love being a granddad.
“And we spend quite a good bit of time together. We don’t live near each other, but we go on holiday together, like Christmas. And in the summer we’ll see each other. And then sometimes me and (my wife) Nancy pick them up from school. So that’s nice.”
He said: “It’s great fun you know, because you don’t know how to do it like parenting. It’s ad lib, it’s the biggest ad lib. So when grand-parenthood comes around, it’s like, ‘OK, what do we do here?’ And so I say that joy is like picking them up at school and they love it.”
He added: “I don’t think it’s just us, I think it’s also the ice cream that’s got something to do with it! So you do all those things, you know, and you can play with them and stuff.
“And then as everyone always says there’s the hand-off factor. ‘He has just pooped his pants love, here. Over to you.’” We can all relate to that Sir Paul!