Grandparents Day: Caring goes both ways

By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer

Believe it…Grandparents Day is really a ‘thing.’ Actually, it’s been a thing for 43 years now. Congress passed a resolution declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day as Grandparents Day, which President Jimmy Carter signed into law in 1978. Australia, Brazil, Singapore and Mexico also celebrate Grandparents Days, albeit on different dates.

According to NationalToday.com, “Like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, we also have a whole day dedicated to our grandparents. Grandparents and children have a special connection that is proven to both make grandparents live longer, and also make children more emotionally resilient. Grandparents Day is an opportunity to treasure that connection and spend some quality family time together.”

As a grandparent of 19, we are unusual in that only three of our grandkids  live outside Cleveland, and the rest are all within 15 minutes of our home. Rarely does a week go by without talking to or seeing many of them. ‘Opportunities’ to get together abound with football, baseball, soccer, tennis, cross country, track, swimming, basketball, band, dance, gymnastics and theater.

Now that many of them are older, the grandsons eagerly anticipate being old enough to come to our monthly Bardwell boy’s night out (BBNO) events.

On the other side of the spectrum, we know plenty of people our age who rarely see or hear from their grandchildren. That’s sad, not only for the grandparents, but for the grandchildren as well.

Parents, it’s your job to encourage those visits. Or if your parents have passed, consider a night out at an assisted-living community and maybe adopt a grandparent. It would certainly make that senior’s day to have youngsters around they could talk with.

As someone who has experienced a great deal in life, I feel one of my biggest jobs now is to pass along good examples to my grandchildren. I will never be one of those preachy grandparents, and we try to never contradict what their parents have told them, but I know lots of them are picking up what we demonstrate by our social norms, our religious participation and by our volunteerism.

While I haven’t landed any American Red Cross volunteers from the family yet, I know we’ve gotten many to start making blood donations during their college years, and I think some may be considering volunteering after graduation.

Have you got someone in your family who might make a great volunteer with the Red Cross? Talk up your experience and make sure they have the information they need to get started. There are opportunities for even high school aged students. Get started here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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