Grandparent’s Day has been celebrated since 1978 on the first Sunday after Labor Day in the United States. The holiday was proclaimed by former president Jimmy Carter. In his proclamation, he shared how our nation’s progress is a reflection of the wisdom and courage of our founding fathers. He pointed out the nation’s similarity to how a family is guided by its ancestors. Carter went on to explain how our elders have a responsibility to set the moral tone for the family and for passing on values and traditions.
It takes a village to raise a child.
My challenge to you…
This Grandparent’s Day, and beyond, I challenge you to focus on being an intentional participant in your intergenerational relationship. Parents are often the conductors of routine in a child’s life. Routines are focused on pattern; they are designed with continuity in mind. I encourage you to elevate a child’s village by building strong, meaningful rituals throughout daily routines to affirm he is loved unconditionally and truly accepted as a unique participant in the pursuit of happiness.
Dr. Becky Bailey, an acclaimed author and educator, describes these valuable practices as I Love You Rituals. In her book referenced below she explains how rituals are connection focused. They’re the glue which holds a routine together. Without rituals, routines become rigid and lame. Routines help individuals of all ages inspire our brains to focus and cooperate. It is through rituals that children build confidence to understand emotions and develop a capacity to overcome challenges and acknowledge triumphs.
Strong rituals are strengths focused. When showing affection through a ritual, grandparent relationships have a unique opportunity to combine the strengths across generational lines. Combining the comfort of communication-past with communication-present provides a strong foundation for lifelong learning. It demonstrates to both the older adult and child that each person has an opportunity to be both the teacher and the learner. These experiences, when placed strategically into the structure of getting through the day, provide an authentic breath of fresh air.
I Love You Rituals are as simple as a special hand shake when you cross paths or a lullaby you sing together to prepare for a good night’s sleep. A virtual meet-up to read a story together on the weekend, a hand-written letter from the mailbox, or a safe, secure empathic hug demonstrating disappointment is okay. It can be joining together in shared verse before digging into your meal or a simple game you play while driving in the car.
Valued rituals inspire both adult and youth to be fully present in the moment. Rituals promote mindfulness, an active and intentional way of being where you are. Essentially, the most important component of a strong ritual is to convey unconditional acceptance and appreciation through a shared experience with a loved one.
“I Love You Rituals are gifts of love you can give your children. Since what you give to others, you strengths in yourself, they are gifts you can give yourself.” – Dr. Becky Bailey
Stop. Take a deep breath. Choose to be intentional this Grandparent’s Day. Your village appreciates you. I am forever grateful for mine.
The Post Rock District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith Counties. Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-346-2521. Stay connected with “Post Rock Extension” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Our website is www.postrock.ksu.edu.
Content for this article is referenced from “I Love You Rituals” (2000) by Becky A. Bailey, Ph. D.