How Grandparents Can Connect With Their Grandchildren
Being Grandparents May Be Trickier Than You Expected
Being a grandparent was supposed to be the easy part. In theory, you did the real work when raising your children. Now they’re supposed to take on the care and toil that are part of effective parenting leaving Grandpa and Grandma free to enjoy the grandchildren.
But it’s not always that simple. Thanks to forces like ubiquitous social media, the grandchildren are growing up in a very different world than the one in which their grandparents were kids. This can make it harder for old and young to relate to one another. So too can the natural focus of the grandchildren on school and friends and whatever are the ongoing concerns and preoccupations of the family.
Feeling frustrated, Grandpa and Grandma could succumb to the temptation to push and become “over involved grandparents” who encroach on the parents and their kids in an unwelcome way and appear to be trying to usurp the roles of Dad and Mom. Naturally this can foster resentment, and you don’t want to be those people. But either do you want to be “uninvolved grandparents” with little involvement in the lives of the grandchildren. It would be a shame if you were denied the joy that involvement would bring.
Fortunately, there are solutions. Here are seven tips that will help grandparents connect with grandchildren in a rich, meaningful, and appropriate way.
Grandparents Tip #1: Set up Grandpa and Grandma Dates
Plan times to spend with your grandchildren. You should set up these dates with each of them alone. That will give each grandchild the feeling that he or she is special and important to you. So will marking the date on your calendar.
When letting the grandchild know about the date, it’s important to let him or her know that this is about spending time together and not an occasion for special treats or getting new toys.
Grandparents Tip #2: Support the Grandchildren’s Activities
Most likely, your grandchildren are involved in plays, concerts, sports, science fairs, or presentations at school. Whatever they’re in to, they’ll appreciate having their grandparents attend.
Your presence doesn’t necessarily have to begin or end with the event itself. Skype or a similar program or app can allow them to rehearse for you remotely, and they’ll appreciate the interest and support that reflects as well.
Grandparents Tip #3: Stories
Find out what your grandchildren’s favorite books are. Then you can have some of them available when they visit.
Once again, stories can help to strengthen a bond even when the grandchildren aren’t physical present. You can read to them or with them via Skype or record yourself reading bedtime stories to them.
Grandparents Tip #4: Know What Your Grandchildren Are Interested In
If you ask your grandkids what they’re interested in, they’ll tell you about your favorite books, sports, music, games, or whatever. That will give you something specific to ask and talk about.
The conversation may be that much richer and more interesting to the grandchild if Grandpa and Grandma actually know something about what he or she is in to. YouTube may help bring you up to speed. You can listen to music from artists you weren’t familiar with before and watch gamers play through various video games.
Grandparents Tip #5: Your Own Interests
In addition to taking an interest in what interests the grandchildren, grandparents can share their own interests like playing a musical instrument, gardening, woodworking, cooking, or whatever. You’ll enjoy sharing one of your passions with them, and they’ll enjoy learning a new skill.
Grandparents Tip #6: Let the Grandchildren Teach You Something
Just as grandparents can teach new skills to their grandchildren, you may well find out that the kids have something they can teach you. That can be just as fulfilling for both parties, and you might even discover something new you’re eager to pursue.
Grandparents Tip #7: Encourage Meaningful Conversations
When grandchildren feel they can freely share their thoughts and feelings with their grandparents, that trust strengthens the bond between the two. You can encourage them to confide in you by listening in an accepting and supportive way. Resist whatever temptation you might feel to lecture or pass judgment.
To begin a meaningful conversation, it helps to ask an effective question. Just to provide a couple examples, “What was your favorite part of school today?” and “What’s something that made you happy today?” are likely to elicit more profound responses than the vague, generic “How was school? or “What have you been up to lately?”
So you see, it’s eminently possible for grandparents to connect with their grandchildren. Put these tips into practice and see for yourself.