Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dr. Yael,

I am writing to you about my experience giving gifts to my grandchildren. My husband and I spend hours trying to give every grandchild the correct gift. Often my grandchildren will thank me, but I feel that they really are not happy with the gift. It is particularly difficult with our older grandchildren. This Chanukah we feel like coming without gifts. However, I don’t think this is a good idea. I am sure other grandparents feel like us since many of my friends have the same challenge. We love our grandchildren, and we want to give them gifts that they will appreciate.


Loving Grandparents


Dear Loving Gradparents,

I understand your situation and I have an interesting solution to your problem. For younger grandchildren, give your children an amount that you want to spend and let them call in the gift to a Jewish toy store with your credit card or help you to order it online. For older grandchildren, Chanukah gelt is the best way to go. If you want them to remember, you can give them a gift certificate or a check which may help them appreciate the gift more.

Although children do want and appreciate gifts, they appreciate your attention even more! Spending time talking to or playing with your grandchildren (depending on their age) will impact them even more than a tangible gift. I’m not recommending that you stop giving gifts because some people’s love language is getting gifts, but in order to forge a deeper relationship, you would benefit from giving your time and attention. Being loving and complimenting your grandchildren as much as possible is also very effective. The best gift that you can ultimately give your grandchildren is unconditional love, warmth, and understanding. Grandparents can spoil their grandchildren with extra time, attention, and interest. While parents need to discipline their children, the unconditional love a grandparent can give has the greatest value.

I still remember my own grandparents always buying me my favorite ice cream when I came to visit them on Sunday. I know my own parents and in-laws gave my children so much love, time, and exciting outings that are remembered to this day! The gift of time and unconditional love is more valuable than material gifts. I know that it is harder today since grandparents are often competing with technology and children today are busy with many groups and programs. Boys are particularly busy with learning schedules and long school hours, but if you can try these following ideas you will see that your relationship with your grandchildren will deepen significantly.

  1. Time is our most precious commodity, a fact that becomes more obvious as we become older.
  2. Play with your grandchildren because they will love it and always remember it.
  3. Read to your grandchildren if they’re young.
  4. Go to their activities, if possible, because this shows them how much you care.
  5. Give specific praise to your grandchildren because children need specific praise to help build their confidence.
  6. Use your grandchildren’s names when you appeal with them as it makes them feel more special.
  7. Show them that you light up when they come into the room because this will show them how much they mean to you.
  8. Physical affection, like hugs and appropriate kisses is very important for chidren. If they do not get healthy physical affection, children may look for it in other ways, which may not be a healthy source of physical affection.

In conclusion, when you see your grandchildren, try to compliment and praise them as well as give them your attention and love. The love and interest that you show them will be remembered always. Hatzlacha!


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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at