Date your grandparents

by | March 7, 2012

It is tough nowadays for kids to see their grandparents due to distance and school schedules. However, a bunch of SMU students are determined to bring them together.

BY: Eleanor Yap


Goh Yu Xuan with her grandmother, Tan Ah Hong.

In today’s world, it can be tough seeing Granny or Grandpa. With families scattered in various parts of the world and kids busy with school, grandkids can sometimes find it hard to catch up with grandparents, much less see them beyond special occasions. There are tons of benefits to bonding with grandparents such as grandparents can provide the grandkids with a sense of cultural heritage and family history as well as lots of love.

It is with this in mind that seven Singapore Management University (SMU) first-year students decided it was time to do something about this as part of a community project for their module on leadership and teambuilding. On Saturday, they held an event called “A Silver Date”, where six grandparents (mostly grandmothers) were the centre of attention.


It is about grandparents

Shared Goh Yu Han, 20, the lead student organiser for the event: “Our objective was to increase the interaction between young people like ourselves and our grandparents. We noticed that many tertiary students are so busy with school, work and volunteering at external organisations that they fail to give time to the people that are closest to them. At the same time, our grandparents need us the most. Psychological theories reveal that many older people at the retired stages of their lives are seeking to spend time and effort with people that matter to them. Thus they are always ready for us, however we fail to prioritise them into our lives.”

She added: “In light of this situation, we organised an event where youths bring their grandparents on a date so they can spend quality time together, creating a memorable experience for each other. We hope this event will encourage the youths to continue spending time with their grandparents to their utmost effort.”

Another participant with his grandmother.

Besides grandkids bringing their grandmothers, even some other members of the families wanted to take part at the event at the Orchid Country Club. Supported by Young NTUC, the event which ran for two-and-a-half hours consisted of lunch, playing games, massage therapy and sharing of the five Love Languages including words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch.

Said Goh Yu Xuan, 17, one of the participants (and sister to the lead student organiser for the event), who shared her experience with her 72-year-old grandmother, Tan Ah Hong: “I got a chance to talk to her solely as she is the only one here at the event that I know. She was trying to teach me different languages and was laughing at me because I was bad! She knows so many languages including Hindu, Malay, etc.”

She shared: “Even though we live within a walking distance away from her, we rarely see her as we are all very busy with our own lives. Also, it is quite inconvenient for her to step out and visit us so we mainly see her on special occasions such as Chinese New Year. Talking to her, I realised I haven’t been able to spend quality time with her and I hope this will change.”

Her grandmother Tan also was enjoying the time spent with one of her 15 grandkids: “It is very good talking to my grandchildren as they are very innocent and have no motives. I really enjoy spending time with my grandchildren.”


Distance can’t keep them apart

Jessie Chui with her grandmother, Lee Kwee Eng.

Another participant, Jessie Chui, 23, also shared not seeing her 71-year-old grandmother, Lee Kwee Eng, very much. “I only see her once or twice a year as she lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.” At the event, Chui, a physiotherapist at St Andrew’s Community Hospital, shared the importance of touch and how it can bring a calming effect to loved ones and reduce muscle tension.

“Because of this sharing, I had gone online to read about touch and found that the elderly are often deprived of touch and feel they don’t need it. My patients like it when I give them comfortable touch. I didn’t realise the elderly also appreciated touch and love it,” said Chui. “My grandmother gives me positive feedback and encourages me, and this makes me love her more.”

During the event, she even learned something new – about her grandmother’s knee operation in 2006 and much more. “She shared her life stories and I found out that she worked very hard and stood for hours as she had a food store where she cooked and sold food.”

Added the grandmother of eight Lee: “I am very happy to be able to spend time with my grandchild. I got to know more about her including that she serves the seniors and is working now.”

Though Silver Date was a small-scaled event, it nonetheless achieved its goal of grandkids spending time with their grandparents and hopefully more interactions to follow. SMU student and organiser Goh said she will continue emphasising the need to spend more quality time with grandparents and hopes to continue holding this event again at a later time.


** So how can grandkids stay connected more with their grandparents? Make regular visits if your grandparents live nearby and make sure you pen in the time. Also, encourage your grandparents to drop by. With technology being so advanced these days, take advantage of e-mail and even Skype if you can. If computers are not their thing, consider the good old telephone as your next best option. You can also send pictures to your grandparents to keep them up-to-date on what is going on with your life. So no matter the reason, you can stay in touch with your grandparents.


** PICTURES BY: Chelsea Toh




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