After your own kids (let’s be honest, maybe before), your grandchildren are the apple of your eye.
You do your best to be present and involved in their lives as well as love and support their parents. When you love someone that much, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with fear and all of the “what if’s” that could possibly happen.
The concerns and anxieties that you had when your own children were small have now evolved, giving you a whole new set of worries for the next generation.
If you ever watched an episode of To Catch a Predator, then you know what this is. You might remember that in the TV program, people pretending to be teenagers would allow these predators to arrange to meet them in real life, where they were then surprised by Chris Hansen and a camera crew.
It is terrifying to think that, with your grandkids frequent activity online, that this could be a situation they find themselves in.
Take comfort in knowing, however, that reports of online exploitation of this nature are actually on the decline. A study has shown that reports of unwanted online sexual solicitation has actually declined by a whopping 53 percent between 2000 and 2010. By 2010, only 9 percent of internet using kids reported having received an unwanted solicitation of a sexual nature1.
Scary though it is, it’s also comforting to know that it isn’t as common as it once was by a long way.
What can you do?
Help your grandkids to understand the importance of maintaining their anonymity online by not sharing their last name or any specific details with someone they don’t know. Watch for signs that your grandson or daughter is being more secretive when it comes to their online time, as this can also be an indication that something is going on. Lastly, ensure that your grandkids know that you are a safe person to talk to if they do find themselves in a negative situation. It’s a special relationship that you have with them, and one that may just help them to stay safe online.
Everywhere you look these days, people are attached to some piece of technology or another. Smartphones, tablets, music players, laptops; they are impossible to get away from. This fact has likely trickled down to your grandchildren, as younger and younger kids are not only using digital technology more frequently, but may in fact have their own device. Not only can this be a little bit obnoxious for you when trying to hold a conversation with them, but it can also be down right concerning.
One particular study found there was a correlation between screen time and the ability to predict psychological and social problems in children, which included social issues with other children, hyperactive behavior, and other behavioural issues such as aggression and acting out2. This obviously has a direct impact on their interaction with their family as well.
What can you do?
While it might seem like the screen has completely taken over your sweet grandchild, don’t lose hope that they are lost to the internet forever. Help them to curb their use by setting limits on their device use, such as no devices at the at the table or after 7pm. This gentle guidance will not only help them to achieve a more balanced life, but also a sunnier mood.
Growing up too fast
You can probably still clearly remember the day that your own babies were born, holding their tiny hand and comparing it to your own. The time it took for that small, sweet baby to grow into an adult and parent seems to have passed so quickly. Now in comparison your grandchild seem to be growing up at lightning speed, going from newborn to three-nager to teenager in a flash. Childhood is a precious time, which even at its best only lasts for a short while.
It’s no wonder either that this rising generation seems to be more mature at a much younger age. Schools are expecting more and more of them at earlier stages. You always knew that your grandbabies were intelligent, but it’s hard to believe what they learn while still so young. Kids today are also open to so many more influences via the internet and media, which can cause them to lose their innocence all the more quickly.
What can you do?
As a grandparent, while you may not be able to stop the stream of school work and the onslaught from the media, you can play a big part in preserving your grandchild’s youth a little longer. Trips to get ice cream, board games, and long walks with grandma and grandpa are the stuff that childhood memories are made of. By filling their minds with those precious moments and allowing them to just simply be a kid, you might manage to slow the constant march of time by just a little.
A busy shopping mall, the park, a school. These are all places you or your child will likely go with your grandchild at some point or another. And why shouldn’t you? These are normal, even essential, places to be. These are also locations where it can be all too easy for a person with bad intentions to snatch your precious little one, and that is a frightening thought.
You’ve likely read and seen many headlines of kidnapping over the years, which is enough to stop your heart at the very thought of it happening to someone in your own family. However, you can breathe somewhat easier knowing that it’s actually relatively rare for children in the United States to be randomly kidnapped, accounting for only 1 percent of the children reported missing in the U.S. In fact, it’s far more likely that a child will be taken by another member of the family3.
What can you do?
Awareness is perhaps the best tool to combat this kind of incident. Making sure that you know where your grandson or granddaughter are when you are out and keeping them nearby (particularly if they are little) is the biggest deterrent there is. You’ll of course also get the added benefit of extra hand holding from your grandchildren, which is definitely a positive.
Difficult family situation
Families can take on a wide array of forms depending on circumstance. Your grandchild may live with one biological parent and their live in partner or another adult. It may be a blended family situation. It may even be that your grandson or granddaughter are in a situation where they are in foster care due to events with their own parents. While there is no doubt that it is possible for a child to be completely loved and secure in home environments like these, studies have shown that there can be risks associated.
One particular study found that children who live in a home with unrelated adults are almost 50 times as likely to die due to inflicted injuries than children who live with both biological parents. In these cases of abuse and fatality, the vast majority of perpetrators were the unrelated adult household member4.
What can you do?
Here again, awareness is a key element in ensuring the safety of the kids involved. Even young children are capable of letting you know about situations which may be unsafe, so be sure to take these comments seriously. If after discussing with your own child the incident and you don’t feel there is an adequate response, don’t be afraid to take action yourself. Your grandchildren rely on the adults around them to make sure that they are safe, and when the immediate adults available aren’t able to step in, that’s when you can.
Plan for the worst, hope for the best
Grandparents are natural worriers, that’s not a fact that is going to disappear any time soon. Sometimes those fears are justified and other times perhaps they’re not. No matter what, we try to do our best to account for every eventuality.
Ride Nanny is one such option to help prevent the worst from happening. It’s easy to use, even your grandkids could probably do it! It also ensures that with the change in routine of having your grandchild in the car, you don’t make a critical error. We’re all human and are capable of making mistakes, and Ride Nanny wants to help prevent the mistake of walking away from the car when you’re grandkids are still with you.
Though we plan for the worst, we should ultimately hope for the best. A small bit of worry can help us to stay on our toes, but too much and we miss out on feeling the joy that comes from being around our grandchildren, which is the best part of all of this grandparent gig.
1Elgersma, Christine. “Parents, here’s the truth about online predators”. CNN, Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., 3 August 2017. https://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/03/health/online-predators-parents-partner/index.html
2Vitelli, Romeo. “Does Your Child Have a Digital Addiction?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, LLC. 23 November 2017. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/media-spotlight/201711/does-your-child-have-digital-addiction
3O’Neill, Kelli. “What’s the most likely time to have children kidnapped?” Quora. 20 June 2017. https://www.quora.com/What%E2%80%99s-the-most-likely-time-to-have-children-kidnapped
4Dickinson, Amy. “Grandparents worry about grandchild’s welfare”. Detroit Free Press, Gannett. 1 May 2018. https://eu.freep.com/story/life/advice/2018/05/01/grandparents-grandchildren-advice-column/536659002/