One of the most important things grandparents offer children and grandchildren is the gift of experience. While this benefit may be obvious, right now it’s more important than ever, even if physical visits are limited due to stay at home orders and risk of COVID-19 infection.
Young people who have been raised in the U.S. during the most prosperous time in history have only their own experience as a point of reference. Grandparents have lived through other recessions, possibly depressions, wars, threat of nuclear war and the climate scares of an ice age in the early 70s and the threat of melting ice that would swallow up the land we call home in early 2000s.
Children have their own stresses. And despite being raised during the most prosperous time in history, they are more likely to commit suicide. How can this be? There are many reasons, but in addition to the divorce rate and the opioid epidemic, many are being taught that America is bad, capitalism is evil and that climate change will destroy us within 12 years.
Now add the COVID-19 quarantine, fear of an epidemic, small businesses shutting down and record unemployment, and that is a lot to process.
Grandparents have an important role to provide a calm perspective. It’s a comforting message to hear that we will get through this crisis and that with struggle comes strength. It may be surprising for them to hear that financial problems, while they can be devastating, aren’t the worst problems in life.
Grandparents have the ability to help children develop good mental health habits by starting everyday remembering all the things they can be thankful for and remind them of the things they take for granted.
As Americans, we are a creative, resourceful and resilient bunch, and grandparents can reinforce that. Things may look bad now, but the sun will come up in the morning, the birds will be singing, the flowers blooming, beautiful trees will provide shade and there will be an awe-inspiring sunset to end our day. They can be reminded of the importance of God, family and community.
Most of all, they need to know that they have people who care about them, one way or another we will get through this together and this too shall pass.