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Dear Sito,

My grandchildren barely visit me! They all have packed schedules, and it’s understandable that it’s tough to make time to visit ol’ Granny. But as I’m sure you know, nothing can compare to the happiness and pride one receives from adorable grandchildren running
around the house. I always keep the house stocked with snacks and candy to spoil them rotten, but they don’t come nearly as often as they should!
What can I do?

From One Sito
to Another

Dear Another Sito,

I once found a lovely little plaque that stated: “If I knew grandchildren would be this much fun, I would have had them first!”  

While our own children bring us happiness and pride, it comes with a great deal of worry and, at times, frustration. Once we have grandchildren, although we tend to worry about them, as well, it is a much smaller portion of our interaction with them. They are cute, loving and adorable. Whenever I have time with them, whether in their house or mine, I am greeted with a shrieking “SITO” and a running bear hug that can’t be beat. Where else do we receive such unconditional love and adoration? Of course, we want to be with them as often as possible, so what’s a Sito to do when the visits are too infrequent for her liking?

The proper approach to take will vary, based on the grandchildren’s ages. When they are very young, their visits are, most likely, determinedby their parents. As they get older, they will have more of a say, but will still be dependent on their parents to bring them over to you. When they themselves are old enough to visit on their own, the frequency of their visits will be determined by the extent to which the value of respecting and visiting Sito has been instilled in them. 

The way I see it, and what I have practiced myself, our relationship with our grandchildren will be guided by the relationship we have with their parents. Meaning, we have to get along with our children and their spouses in order for them to want to visit and for them to encourage their children to visit. Too often, I have seen a Sito who disagrees with her daughter-in-law’s parenting and defies her wishes – for example, she will let the grandkids eat snacks before dinner, buy them toys that the parents think are unacceptable, or ignore their bedtime and keep them up late. They do all this in an effort to endear themselves to their grandchildren, but some parents do not acknowledge a Sito’s right to spoil grandchildren rotten, for understandable reasons. We Sito’s must be respectful of our children’s parenting rules and preferences, or else we risk alienating them and having them stop bringing the children over to visit us.

Another thing to consider is that children nowadays really do have packed schedules. Between school, hobbies and social obligations, there is precious little time to spend with their parents, let alone with grandparents. So some creativity is necessary. Instead of thinking of a traditional visit where they come to your home, perhaps offer to pick up a grandchild from an afterschool activity and take him for ice cream. This will allow you to catch up with them one-on-one. I make a date with my grandchildren on their birthday. I take them to buy their gift and then we go to dinner. They love the individual attention I can give them which their very busy mother is not always able to provide.

Do you have any hobbies you can share with them? My mother taught mydaughter how to sew on a sewing machine. I love to paint and do craft projects, so the grandkids know that if they come over we will enjoy a painting or beading session. Special outings are another way of spending time with them. A trip to the library, a visit to a museum, or riding the train or subway to Manhattan are all wonderful ways to spend time with the grandchildren.

Bear in mind that when you say, “they don’t come nearly as often as they should,” there is no single accepted definition of “should.”Gone are the days when Sito used to sit home and the children were brought to her. You may have to do your visiting at their house.

Of course, for us Jews, Shabbat and holidays are “should” times for visiting Sito. Graciously invite them without expectation that they will have every meal with you. It is also important to be flexible. If your grandchildren’s parents invite you for a holiday, accept the invitation graciously, offer to bring your special dish, and enjoy the time off and out of the kitchen!

 

All the best,

Sito