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If you were lucky enough to have a grandparent growing up, you know that the special bond that develops within the relationship can make a big difference in the life of a child.

Grandparents are valuable and irreplaceable when it comes to teaching children, telling them stories of their past, and most of all spoiling them to a point where the parents sometimes get angry.

Luckily, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I grew up with two sets of grandparents, and the sudden death of one of my grandfathers when I was 26 was a traumatic experience for me. My grandfather was my advisor and a close friend, and the unconditional love and support he provided to all of us was indispensable. He taught us so many important lessons that now, 15 years later, not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.

Why do I write about grandparents in a Fabulously40 blog in January?

Because our grandparents play a huge role in our lives and the lives of our children, and we should make it a point to reciprocate when they become older and need us more than we need them. However, I have learned that a few ground rules need to be followed in order to smoothly transition our roles as we get older and they need us more and more.

Stay in Touch

My parents instilled in me (and I instilled in my children) the following rule: as soon as you are old enough to speak, you will pick up the phone and call your grandparents. This turned out top be a simple task that my kids eagerly adapted to. Once a week we would all gather around the phone and make calls to each grandparent to find our how they were doing and to say “I love you,” even if they we had just seen them the day before. This simple task embedded in my young children’s brains set up a pattern for future.

Today, when my two living grandparents are in their late ‘80s and ‘90s, I don’t have to remind my children to call. They know that I call my grandma and grandpa every day (it only takes two minutes and makes their day), so they have no excuse not to call. My children developed their own system, synchronizing the calls between the four of them, so that their grandparents and great-grandparents receive a call at least once a day from one or two of them.

I hate to sound like an old AT&T commercial, but in today’s world, we are literally only a phone call away. Add to that the convenience of email and text messaging and there really is no excuse for not staying in touch on a regular basis.

It’s Never Too Late

I have a relative who, in my opinion, did not do a great job of bringing up her kids. She was too liberal and permissive, and allowed her children to do whatever they wanted. You can probably guess how they turned out.

Worse, her children were taught to take but not to give. They would always show up to collect their birthday gifts and Chanukah money, but never bothered to call throughout the year. This went on for many years. I frequently voiced my frustrations and disapproval to their mother, even getting in arguments with her about it, but to no avail. Finally, I decided to try something different.

This year I spoke directly to her “kids.” I met with them and asked why they never take the time to call, visit or send a card. Their united response was: “No one ever told us we have to. Mom rarely calls or visits, so why should we?”

I promptly gave them a no-nonsense lecture about the importance of staying in touch with family, and to my surprise, it had an impact on them. After our little chat, my niece and nephew began calling their grandma regularly. When they skipped a week, I got right back in their face reminding them of their duty.

The moral of the story is that it’s never too late to steer your loved ones in the right direction. In fact, it is our duty to teach our children, nieces, and nephews and guide them in the right direction.

I realize that for some people it’s easier to say nothing and simply avoid the situation. But I also know that what we teach our kids today will reflect in their character the rest of their lives. What they learn from us now will make them better people, and for that I’m willing to be the “wicked mom, aunt or friend.” I’m also more than willing to remind you that kids need to be taught and disciplined.

So please don’t wait for Grandparents Day to call, visit or send a card. And teach your children to do the same. After all, every day should be Grandparents Day.

All the best,



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