Ask any kid: Grandparents rule. They're known worldwide as great companions and often shower their grandchildren with special treats and lots of love. Some kids live far away from their grandparents so they stay in touch by phone, through email, and with letters. Other kids live close to their grandparents, making it easy to visit often. And still other kids — more than 5 million in the United States — live with their grandparents.
Sometimes, the family is sharing the grandparents' house and sometimes the grandparent moves into the family's house or apartment. Maybe your grandmother moved in with your family because she was having trouble living alone. Or maybe your grandparents take care of you in place of your mom or dad.
Being a grandparent is a big job, but grandparents have a lot of experience. They raised and cared for your parent when he or she was a kid! And grandparents have been the heads of households since the beginning of time. In many cultures — Native American and Chinese, for instance — grandparents are looked up to as a source of wisdom.
When a Grandparent Moves In
Any change can be difficult to adjust to. So even if you love your grandfather, it may be tough when he moves in. Your grandfather will need a room to sleep in and everyone will have to learn to share the bathroom and the TV. Try to be as nice as you can during this time. Your grandparent may have trouble settling into a house that isn't his or her own.
After the adjustment period, you might find you enjoy having someone else in the house and a new person to spend time with. Grandparents often tell the best stories, like interesting tales about when they were kids. You might start by asking how many miles they had to walk to school each day!
If your grandparent needs help, you might be the one to lend a hand. And your grandparent might be able to help you by playing a game with you or fixing you a snack after school. If your grandparent needs a lot of help or is ill, your parents will help care for him or her. In some cases, a nurse might visit your house.
As your household gets bigger, you may feel left out or decide you need more of your parents' attention. Share your feelings if you feel this way. Maybe your mom or dad can schedule some special time with you. Your parents will appreciate it if you pitch in around the house and do a few more chores than usual. This can be really helpful when there's so much to do.
When You Move In With a Grandparent
Quite a few kids live with grandparents who take care of them in place of their moms or dads. These are often loving relationships, but it can be a challenging situation for both the kid and the grandparent. Kids who live with grandparents might miss their moms or dads and wish they could live with them instead. The grandparent may find it difficult to keep up with a kid and all of his or her needs.
Talk with your grandparent, or another trusted adult, if you have some of these feelings. Often the solution is that both the kid and the grandparent work together. The grandkid can help by working hard in school, staying out of trouble, and helping around the house. The grandparent can try to be understanding about what it's like to be a kid these days. Loving and caring for each other can be the glue that keeps everything together.
And one more thing: You might want to put the first Sunday after Labor Day on your calendar. Why? It's Grandparents Day!
Reviewed by: Colleen Sherman, PhD
Date reviewed: October 2013
© 1995-2012 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.