Q My wife and I and our two children will be visiting my parents next month who live out of state, and we don’t see them often. I want the visit to go well. I want my parents to have a good impression of our kids during and after our time with them. What behaviors do we need to teach or encourage in our kids before we see my parents?

A Here are some suggestions for you:


  1. Have your children write, email or call your parents now. They can send notes and drawings. Also, help your kids to make or find little gifts to give your parents during the visit. This encourages the kids to make their grandparents the focus of the visit, rather than themselves. It encourages kindness.

In addition, every note, drawing and phone connection helps build a positive relationship between the grandparents and your children.

  1. Teach your children how to entertain themselves, so they are not bored, restless or acting inappropriately during the visit. Help them pack games, books and creative materials.
  2. Before your trip, discuss and list some questions that are ok to ask their grandparents. If there are questions or topics the children should not bring up, talk about those questions or topics and why they are not appropriate.
  3. Discuss any rules your parents might have: for example, not wearing outside shoes in their house.
  4. Acquaint your children with appropriate mealtime behavior. If your parents pray before meals and your family does not, you could acquaint your children with this practice and teach them some short mealtime prayers. Teach your kids how to be of help at mealtime. For example, they could learn to place the silverware correctly or help clear away the dirty dishes.
  5. Encourage your kids to say please and thank you at mealtimes. If you use some or all of the above suggestions, your visit should go well. Your parents will have a good impression of your children and look forward to spending quality time with them again.

Betty Richardson, PhD, RN, CS, LPC, LMFT, is an Austin-based psychotherapist.


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