Roots and values

Roots and values
Grandparents can pass down your family’s history and traditions to your child—roots from which he can build his own identity.

Grandparents can pass down your family’s history and traditions to your child—roots from which he can build his own identity. He can learn from them, for example, that mommy didn’t like broccoli when she was little, and that daddy could sometimes be quite a rascal! That makes him realizes that you, his parents, were children once too. And, hard as it might be to believe, he learns that grandpa and grandma didn’t have computers or video games when they were young. Even that his curly hair comes from his great grandfather.

Grandparents are often also the hub around which uncles, aunts and cousins get together. Your child will discover that he’s part of a family tree. “He learns where he comes from, and who came before him,” says Francine Ferland. “He acquires a past and can also project himself into the future.” This is why, when there’s a separation, it’s important that the child still be able to spend time with both sets of grandparents.

“A grandparent eats liquorice, goes camping, and gives lots of kisses!”
-Thomas Bordeleau, 3 years old

Grandparents are also special witnesses to the small and big events in their grandchildren’s lives. This is why France has given each of her grandchildren a family album filled with pictures of birthdays, family outings and special events. New pictures are always being added. The children look at the album, talk about what they see and remember. In a way, these albums are the memory of their childhoods.

A relationship protected by law
In Quebec, the Civil Code specifies that parents cannot, without serious reason, hinder the personal relationship between children and their grandparents. So, even if the parents are divorced, one parent has died or there has been a serious conflict between the grandparents and parents, grandparents are entitled to see their grandchildren, whether biological or adopted. If it’s difficult or impossible to see them because the parents refuse, grandparents can file a motion with the Superior Court of Quebec to obtain access to the children. In rendering its decision, the court will take the child’s interests into account first. Then, based on the circumstances, it can either grant access rights or limit contact to phone calls, letters or family get-togethers. It may also decide not to grant access to grandchildren if there are serious enough grounds to warrant such a ruling. For more information:
“I love watching movies in grandpa Jules’ and granny Ginette’s minivan.”
-Xavier Renaud, 4 years old

Part of a grandparent’s role is also to pass on values. “The other day, my granddaughter was a bit envious of a friend, telling me how her friend lives in a big house with a pool,” says Jocelyne. “So we spoke about what’s most important in life to be happy that you can’t buy, like family and love.” Other values that the 62-year-old grandmother considers important to share with her grandchildren are respect for others and nature, the importance of work and honesty.

“I love talking to grandma and grandpa on the phone; they send me sugar kisses.”
-Raphaël Ernwein, 3 years old

Finally, at a time when many children have experienced separations and live in blended families, grandparents can provide security and stability. According to Nathalie Parent, a visit to grandma and grandpa’s house can sometimes provide a haven of peace that can help reduce stress in a young child. But for that to hold true, the psychologist warns, “the grandparents must avoid taking sides or criticizing either of the parents.”

A two-way street

Your child is not the only one who benefits from this relationship. Grandparents also get a lot in return. First, a healthy dose of love, tenderness, joy and pride! “When my granddaughter says, ‘I love you grandma,’ the feeling is beyond words,” says Jocelyne. “Watching them grow, talk, sing and learn is pure joy,” adds France. “Watching their progress is awe-inspiring.” Grandparents also feel a sense of continuity, happy to see that a small part of them lives on through their grandchildren. Not to mention that grandchildren keep you young and healthy! “To keep up with a child at play, you’ve got to move and even surpass your normal physically activity,” says Nathalie Parent. “Playing on all fours, throwing a ball, walking next to a child riding a bicycle are all good for the body and the heart.” Another benefit of being in contact with children is the intellectual stimulation it provides. Answering 1001 questions on as many subjects keeps the grey cells active… as does surfing the Internet and looking through books. Rediscovering the world through a child’s eyes is a great way to open new horizons.