Editor’s note: This is the eighth in a series of Meridian Articles to and about grandparents. See the first seven articles at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. A new article runs each Tuesday. Richard and Linda, who spend more and more of their time these days writing and speaking to Grandparents, would appreciate your feedback (via comments) on each of these articles.
Few forces on earth are strong enough to keep loving Grandparents from physically hugging and kissing our grandchildren. But one force that should be strong enough to stop us right now is the coronavirus!
All the evidence points to very minor symptoms or no symptoms in children who may be infected, but they can certainly be carriers and contagious spreaders of the virus. So, for the time being, hopefully not for too long, our advice to ourselves and to our fellow grandparents is to do most of our grandparenting remotely (and we will make some suggestions here on how to do that effectively) and when it is necessary to be with our grandkids, keep a six foot distance and save the hugs for later. (We will all appreciate them more when we can go back to hugging!)
Now, in the meantime, how can we be proactive in our grandparenting and be part of the solution as parents struggle to handle kids who are home from school and try to make their extra time at home productive and enjoyable? Parents—your children—are trying to see this more abundant family time as a silver lining, but having kids home unexpectedly can be a huge adjustment. This is not easy for families, and our instincts as grandparents is to step in and help with childcare. Probably not a good idea.
What we can do is to spend time online with our grandkids—facetime with them, and Marco Polo, and call them and text them. As we try to do this, it is good if we have some resources or some ideas about what we can teach and some materials we can share. In our own effort to help you with this, we have come up with six completely free resources that you can give or teach to your grandkids remotely, or that you can pass on to their parents to use at home to make this whole self-isolating thing more enjoyable and more constructive.
1. The values series Alexander’s Amazing Adventures is immediately available. It is a series of audio adventures that will keep your kids interested and involved for hours and provide endless opportunities to talk together about 12 key values that all of us want our children to embrace. Until April 30, the first two adventures in the series are free. You can listen to these two adventures (one on honesty and one on respect—about 30 minutes each—and your grandkids can listen to them, and then you can talk about them on the phone or on Facetime.
2. EyresFreeBooks brings 25 of our books instantly to your phone or computer for free and some of them may give you a chance to study and think about some aspects of your plan for your family. You can also pass these on to your children who can scan through them and read from the ones that may be most helpful to them right now as parents.
3. There are several free previews that we invite you to explore, including a “secret code” for better family communication and a dialogue for talking to your children about sex. You might discuss these with your parents and see if they want your help in talking to your grandkids.
5. You or your children can follow us on Instagram @richardlindaeyre where we give a parenting tip each Tuesday and a meditation on Christ each Sunday (because eternal families are the end and Christ is the means). This may provide some things to talk with or Facetime with your grandkids about.
6. You can Listen to us on our Eyres on the Road podcast every week on your favorite podcast app. The most recent edition is about finding the relationship-and-family-centered silver linings with this coronavirus situation. And you can listen to past shows at BYUradio.org.
As fellow grandparents, we hope, for your family as well as for ours, that we can turn this unexpected, more isolated time into a good opportunity for our own internal peace and for added closeness with our families. We all want to help with our children’s families during this time of upheaval and crisis, and we love our grandkids more than ever. But the best way to help, at least for the next few weeks, is to do all we can REMOTELY! The good news is that we can do a lot that way!
Richard and Linda Eyre’s parenting and life-balance books have reached millions and been translated into a dozen languages. As fellow Baby Boomers, their passion and their writing focus has now shifted to the joy of Grandparenting. Linda’s latest book is Grandmothering, and Richard’s is Being a Proactive Grandfather, each of which is now on sale on Amazon or in Deseret Book. The Eyres have 31 grandchildren and counting, so they have an ample laboratory to test their grandparenting ideas. Their Mission Presidency in London also resulted in another 500 “children” so if you count the children of those missionaries, Richard and Linda may actually have thousands of grandchildren. At any rate, they want to share thoughts from you and hear thoughts back from you, so please comment on this and future articles.