Many grandparents enjoy being involved in their young grandchildren’s lives. With teenagers, staying close can be a little more challenging – this could be due to differing interests, the busyness of daily life, distance or their newfound independence.
Teenagers need just as much, if not more, emotional support, companionship, mentorship and advice from the adults in their lives. Grandparents themselves also benefit from maintaining close relationships with their grandchildren. In fact, some studies have found that grandparents who have strong bonds with their grandchildren may have better brain function, longer lifespans and enhanced mental health.
Here are some ways you can connect with your teenage grandchildren and form a connection that you’ll cherish for the rest of your lives.
Find Time Together
Remember, relationships don’t happen without effort. Regularly spending time together is fundamental to a successful relationship. There are many ways you can keep in touch with your grandchildren.
If you live close, be intentional about spending quality time with your grandchildren on a regular basis. If you live far apart, coordinate schedules with your grandchild and their parents to ensure you get to spend time with them when you’re in town, and vice versa.
Communicating often can help strengthen your bond. Between visits, try to talk with your grandchildren regularly through phone calls, video chats, texting or social media. Set a time that works best for both of you to talk on the phone or through video chat – this could be while you’re out for a morning walk or after they get out of school. Send them a quick text when you come across something that reminds you of them. If you see a post on social media that you think they will like, share it with them.
Try to attend as many extracurricular performances and events, important milestones, seasonal festivities, holidays and celebrations as you can.
Understand and Embrace Your Differences and Similarities
Having different perspectives and preferences from your grandchildren (and even your children) is inevitable. Take time to learn how you and your grandchildren differ, as well as your similarities. Use open-ended questions to ask them about their likes and dislikes, hobbies, friends, classes and other relevant topics to keep them engaged in your conversation. These questions start with, “what, who, when, why and how.”
Take mental notes or keep a cheat sheet of their answers. Keeping up with your grandchild’s interests and appreciating their unique perspective on life shows how much you care and can help build a strong connection.
Jimmy Carter said it best: “Because grandparents are usually free to love and guide and befriend the young without having to take daily responsibility for them, they can often reach out past pride and fear of failure and close the space between generations.” It takes a village to raise a child, and your unique role as a grandparent allows you to be both a cheerleader and mentor when they need it most.
One of the most important ways to support your grandchildren is by actively listening. This valuable communication skill is the practice of listening to understand, rather than respond. Practice being present and showing interest in your conversations with good eye contact and by using (and paying attention to) non-verbal cues.
While your perspective and advice are invaluable, remember to respect the wishes of your grandchild’s parents. This will help build a trusting, respectful relationship.
Ideas for Spending Time Together
The best way to connect with your teenage grandchild is to choose things you’ll both enjoy. If you have multiple grandchildren, set some one-on-one time with each of them and choose an activity that fits their unique interests. Here are some ideas:
- Cook or bake together
- Play card or board games
- Visit a farmer’s market
- See the latest movie in theaters
- Enjoy nature with a walk, hike or bike ride
- Volunteer together with a charitable organization
- Attend a sporting event
- Read together
- Tend to the garden
- Go to a concert or live performance
- Visit local Austin attractions, like the Texas State Capitol or the Museum of Ice Cream
- Learn new skills together by taking a class or watching a tutorial on YouTube
- Play games online, like Uno Online or Words With Friends
Find an Enriching Community at Querencia
While connecting with your grandchildren is important, you will also want to make time to build strong relationships in your own community. These friendships can help you enjoy your retirement even more and help reduce loneliness, which can improve your sense of well-being.
Contact us today to see if Querencia is the right fit for your senior living needs.