Keeping Connected: 3 Tips for Grandparents
For many people during your 50s and 60s, you may have the pleasure of being or possibly becoming a grandparent. The rewards of family life grow even richer as each new grandchild enters the world, it’s an amazing thing. This baby represents so many things, including your new identity as a grandparent.
You may have had the joy to help raise that child, to teach them how to walk and talk, with the luxury of no diapers to change or crying babies to wake you up in the middle of the night. And as many may tease, you’re the grandparent now; you can spoil them as much as you want! As they grow into little toddlers and light up every time they see you, running towards you to leap into your arms, an amazing bond is formed.
Over time, as with all things in life, we evolve as we enter new stages of life and you may find interests and motivations you once had with your grandchildren may grow a part. Especially, maybe as they enter the hormonal teenage years, your relationship may shift. And that’s okay, because it’s only natural that things do.
As you both enter new phases of life, how do you stay connected with your grandchildren?
If you are lucky to live in the same area as your grandchildren, creating weekly or bi- weekly traditions can build memories and stronger relationships. This goes for those of you who may have some distance between you and your grandchildren. Creating traditions either monthly or yearly still can have a huge impact. Building that framework for staying connected, makes it only natural that you will stay connected as you get older. Of course distance, makes it difficult to keep connected, and therefore feel connected. Just keep picking up that phone and calling! A 2012 study conducted by the School of Nursing at the University of Delaware found that students who frequently spoke with their grandparents on the phone had more positive perceptions of their grandparents than those who didn't. Interestingly enough, phone contact projected almost the same amount of positive feelings as did face-to-face get-togethers. And in today’s world all the options available to us to connect via face time, Skype, and email, melts those miles between you away. Of course, this also means that if they feel more positive towards their grandparents, they are more likely to spend more time with them.
2. Stay Interested in their interests.
Keep an eye on their interests. What do you see them gravitating towards? And how can you help them turn hobbies into realities?
Investing the time to stay interested in their interests, can pay off richly as you become an integral part of your grandchild's developing sense of self and family. Some of your best memories can be built by supporting and loving the things that make them who they are, and the things that make them happy. You’ll likely find them appreciating your love and support, which will keep you connected.
3. What is something that the two of you share?
Commonalities will grow between you and your grandchildren; after all they are your own blood. And the little things about your personality will have a huge impact on them; they may one day develop your bubbly demeanor or sarcastic funny sense of humor. Teenagers struggle for identity (as do some baby boomers). When you can share part of who you are with your grand kids, they may start to adopt that into their own personalities, and with that common ground, your bond will become even stronger.
If you are lucky to call yourself a grandparent, remember being an active presence in your grandchildren’s life and making that effort to stay connected will only enrich your relationship with your grand kids and that relationship will only continue to grow as you both evolve. So, what can you do today to start strengthening that relationship?