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Take your children upcountry, let them bond with grandparents

By Awuor Omino | August 4th 2021

When we were growing up, holidays basically meant being shipped to the village where we would spend a whole month in the company of the entire extended family. Grandparents got the opportunity to bond with their grandchildren and cousins looked forward to endless adventures where they also learned teamwork and life skills.

Children brought up in towns would have a chance to learn how to plough the fields and take care of animals. They learnt alternative ways of cooking that did not involve gas or electricity and drank cold water that did not necessarily come from the fridge. More importantly, they learned the virtue of sharing and not getting entitled to their spaces as being in the village with everyone also meant being in each other’s space all the time.

Entertainment involved outdoor activities and evenings were spent at the feet of the older generation who regaled us with both fictional and historical stories. It is during these informal gatherings that children learned more on their culture and by extension what the society expected of them. Our grandparents were positive role models who instilled in us the values of hardwork, selflessness and kindness.

But this has changed and holidays now mean taking the family for a staycation in Masai Mara or flying them to Zanzibar for some beach time. While this is equally important, it is also necessary that we carve out time for the children to visit their extended family especially the grandparents.

Apart from the obvious benefits to the children, the older generation also benefit hugely from such interactions. Seniors who enjoy close family relations are unlikely to suffer from depression and often have better mental health. The robust nature of children has a way of rubbing on to the seniors who are suddenly rejuvenated and are just as playful as the children. Engaging in such physical activities will help in promoting their physical health.

While there will be instances where travelling to see the grandparents will be impossible, modern technology makes it easy for us to maintain constant communication and strengthen relationships. Make a deliberate effort to talk to your parents on a regular basis and ensure you include your children when video-calling their grandparents. Do the same when talking to your brothers and sisters as well to ensure they develop a healthy relationship with their aunts, uncles and cousins.

Most importantly, we have the duty of role modeling the behaviour we want to see from our children. Our children will treat us the very way they saw us treating our family members. They are likely to disregard the family ties if we do not intentionally model through our actions the importance of kinship.

Back in time, our education system placed a lot of value on family ties. The English syllabus had the family of Mr and Mrs Kamau and through their daily lives family relationships were defined. Generally, the education system emphasized the place of family and building healthy relationships. Perhaps the author understood that when push comes to shove it is the family that forms the first line of ones’ defence long before friends arrive.

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