SPECIAL FROM Grandparents.com
Just as memories of grandmothers revolve around their hugs and affection, recollections of grandpas often center on special outings and activities — and the values imparted along the way. Today’s generation may be missing out on some basic life skills as harried parents rush to fill kids’ free time with organized activities. Grandfathers can seize the opportunity to step in and pass on some vanishing practical skills to their grandchildren. You’ll model important values and create lasting memories, and what could be more important than that?
Nothing embodies special times with grandpa better than a day of fishing, which involves the type of quiet and peaceful moments many kids today simply don’t get enough of. For suggestions on the best equipment and techniques for junior fishers, visit the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. When you and your companions are ready, start off fishing for bluegill, catfish, bass, or trout in a pond or lake on a summer morning. Then graduate to saltwater fishing, first from the surf or a pier, then onto a deep-sea party boat or even a private charter. When the kids reach an appropriate age, give them a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” to read and discuss on a future outing when the fish aren’t biting.
Values modeled: Practicing catch-and-release teaches kids the sanctity of life; cooking your catch illustrates the circle of life.
Today’s automobiles may be full of computer chips, but the underlying technology — for better or worse — remains largely unchanged from earlier models. You don’t need to be a mechanical genius to be able to familiarize grandchildren with the basic workings of a car. Start by showing kids how to make an oil change or degrease a motor, all the while explaining how an internal-combustion engine works. While rotating tires, point out the brake assembly and how it operates. You can also show kids how to access parts that require routine maintenance, such as belts and air and fuel filters. And don’t forget to show them how to use a jack and change a tire.
Values modeled: Independence and self-sufficiency. The kids will be eternally grateful if your lessons keep them from turning their car over to a mechanic every time a dashboard warning flashes — and help them avoid the financial costs of automotive ignorance.
You don’t need to take grandchildren into the Rockies to teach them survival skills. Even if you’re not an outdoors enthusiast, taking your grandchildren camping in a national or state park will give them cherished memories — and potentially life-saving skills. Start with lessons in campfire building and tent making. To show kids what to eat in the woods, stay near areas where you can forage for wild fruits and berries or track small game. Schedule overnights in different seasons to teach them how to protect themselves from the elements year-round. And always remind kids of critical safety tips. You can get some ideas from KidsHealth.
Values modeled: Appreciation and respect for nature can round out video-game-obsessed children. Quiet time outdoors can stimulate soulful reflection they’ll never find in front of a screen.
At minimum, teaching boys and girls basic carpentry skills will make them comfortable with tools, but hopefully it will also give them the confidence one day to tackle all manner of home projects on their own — from fixing a leaky faucet or toilet to installing hardwood floors — potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars in contractor fees. If your grandchildren’s home, or yours, has a suitable backyard, start by helping the kids build a fort, however modest or grand. This Old House has ideas to get you started. The structure could serve as their first outpost away from the nest, and a monument to a sage grandfather’s guidance until that bittersweet day they outgrow it.
Values modeled: The ability to repair and reuse things are critical, and more valuable than ever at a time when fewer and fewer people are able to build things by hand. These lessons can help foster the self-reliance that great Americans like Thomas Paine and Ralph Waldo Emerson once celebrated.
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