Grandfamilies: Build Something Together

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Rich and Ayden, Visiting Annie the Miniature Horse. Spring, 2007.

Building Traditions

Maybe we have already discussed this topic. If we have, then please understand that I am repeating myself because I feel so strongly about it. While you’re rolling along, being a parent or a grandparent or some other significant flavor of adult in a child’s life, please do this.


Make traditions. Build memories. My Grandpa Seiler always made me stilts fashioned from empty coffee cans. Grandma Downs always had pop in the refrigerator. (And she called it pop.) On Saturday nights, my dad gave my sister and me piggyback rides to bed, and we would run, squealing, to the corner of the house farthest from our bedroom to maximize the fun. My husband remembers his grandmother taking him for a walk up the avenue for an ice cream cone from the drug store.

With our own grandlittles, we have established two traditions: Papa Rich takes them for a walk around our rural neighborhood. On Sunday mornings, we have pancakes (usually Batman or Mickey Mouse chocolate chip pancakes) and bacon for breakfast. Our grandchildren have grown to expect these two things to happen when they come to our home.

And here’s the thing: We’re not talking Disney cruises or even Chuck E. Cheese. No. I’m talking about simple everyday things that you can do with your children or grandchildren that they will remember with fondness for the rest of their lives.

Corporations call this type of thing branding.  Within a family, it’s more a matter of providing the children with a hook to hang their memories on.

It’s a really good idea. Try it?

Do you have rituals or traditions in place with your children or grandchildren? Share, please?

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Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.

1 Corinthians 11:2 (ESV)

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On Tuesdays, we’re talking about families and the joys and challenges that arise when we stretch across three (or more?) generations (child, parent, grandparent). The conversation began on January sixth and we’ll continue until we run out of things to say. Everyone is welcome, and I hope to hear from each generation’s perspective.  Being family is by turns effortless, impossible, blessed, challenging, hurtful, joyous . . . . Let’s talk about it.

Please join us. Be a part of the conversation.

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You still have time to help me with research for my next book! Take a survey and help me tell a better story. Thanks! 


  1. Sheila…thanks for the reminder… It’s so hard to do the grandparent thing when we’re 2,500 miles apart… sometimes if feels too difficult and gets neglected…. I need to step my game up a notch…

    • Bob, I’m glad you found the post helpful. And I hear you! We have a houseful on the other coast–and that’s the closest they’ve been since the summer of 2011.

  2. Sheila, I love your visual images – the hooks, to hang up memories, etc with. I love em! I am about traditions, because I have been schooled in the rich blessings simple routines build into lives, legacy and our very character. To share one simple tradition – my mom served ‘Norwegian’ pancakes (the Norwegian part was significant to our heritage, no matter that they were Swedish pancakes!) every Saturday morning. I bragged about the wonders of these pancakes to my sleepover friends, who seemed to ‘believe’ in the special quality of these cakes….specialness is in the eyes of the beholder. My mom served up ‘wonder’ to me, in many flavors and traditions, all of which continue to give me joy! Thanks for the reminder!

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