Being a grandparent is a rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging to relate with someone who is growing up in a rapidly changing world. That said, there are plenty of shared experiences that transcend generations. Keep reading for some tips on how to strengthen your relationship with your grandchild (or grandchildren) to create lasting memories for you both.
1. Communicate With Their Parents First
Be sure to connect with your adult child first and let them know you want to spend more quality time with your grandchild or grandchildren. This conversation will vary depending on your relationship with and location in relation to your adult child and their family. It’s even possible you may need to spend some time reconnecting with your adult child before taking the next step. Your adult children will have a good idea of their children’s schedules and interests and can work with you to define a relationship appropriate for all involved.
2. Schedule Time to Visit With Your Grandchild
Schedule time to connect with your grandchild either virtually or in-person. Always touch base with your adult child or both parents beforehand to find what times work best to meet up. If you are planning on connecting with them virtually, consider how you want to communicate.
There are lots of great free options for video communication on the market that are compatible with a laptop, tablet or smartphone and an internet or cellular network connection. These include, but are not limited to: Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts and FaceTime (for Apple device users).
If you want to practice using video conferencing technology beforehand, either ask to test things out with your adult child or your spouse/partner, a friend or another family member. While regular audio phone communication works, video communication allows you to read and react to body language.
3. Show Up Prepared With Some Questions
Depending on your grandchild’s age or how talkative they are, you may need to start the conversation (assuming they are able to actively communicate). Come prepared with some questions or prompts to get them talking more about themselves and their interests.
Potential questions you can ask your grandchild include:
- What have you been up to today/this week?
- How is school going? What are your favorite classes?
- Have you read any good books lately?
- Have you seen any good movies/TV shows lately?
- What video game or games are you playing now?
- Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?
- Do you have any big plans for your spring/summer/winter break?
These questions are all good places to start, but you can get as specific as you want with your questions based on your knowledge of your grandchild’s interests and hobbies. You should be prepared to share information about yourself, too. Communication goes both ways!
4. Practice Active Listening
It’s important to dedicate your full attention to your grandchild so that they know you are engaged in the conversation and truly want to hear what they have to say. Your grandchild wants to feel heard, and having the audience of an older adult can be a nice feeling. Make eye contact, respond to what they are saying and ask follow-up questions.
If you are connecting with your grandchild virtually, do your best to find an area with minimal distractions and avoid checking your smartphone or other electronic devices.
5. Be Supportive of Their Interests
One of the best ways you can bond with your grandchild is to learn more about and be supportive of their interests. Here are some ways you can get more involved:
- If your grandchild likes being outside, then take them out to the park or go for a walk. If you have plants or are interested in gardening, share that with your grandchild.
- Research a sport your grandchild plays, learn more about their favorite team or even consider playing with them if it seems like something you could both enjoy safely.
- Pick up a video game console they own and a copy of their favorite game. You may find that you even enjoy gaming as a hobby, as many older adults have discovered.
- Find an age-appropriate book your grandchild is interested in and read it yourself so you can discuss the themes of the book or what they enjoyed most about it.
- Find an age-appropriate movie or TV show your grandchild is interested in and watch it so you can discuss the themes of the movie or show or what they enjoyed most about it.
Once you find out what hobbies your grandchild enjoys, then you can take a more active role in learning more about them and possibly even participate in those hobbies together.
6. Emphasize Quality Time Over Giving Gifts
While giving gifts to celebrate a special occasion can make you feel good and bring your grandchild joy, in the long run, spending quality time with them is an even better option. Experiencing or discussing something that your grandchild enjoys with them is a great way to strengthen your relationship and also create a lasting memory of a shared experience.
Connect With Other Grandparents at Newcastle Place
At Newcastle Place, a senior living community in Mequon, Wisconsin, one of our goals is to provide you with the right mix of services and amenities to help you pursue the hobbies and passions you most enjoy. That also includes freeing up time to spend with grandchildren, who are always welcome here!. A lot of our residents are also grandparents and they have a lot of valuable knowledge to share.
Contact us or complete the form below to learn more about life at Newcastle Place.