The grandparent-grandchild bond is a unique one. As a grandparent, you have a distinguished role and can have an immense impact on your grandchildren’s lives. On the flip side, many older adults find that their grandchildren bring them joy and a sense of purpose.
Distance, differing interests, and the busyness of everyday life can make it challenging to bond with your grandchildren. This makes it all the more important to be intentional about building this relationship. Here are some ways you can make meaningful memories that you’ll both cherish for the years to come.
1. Be Open to Communication (with Their Parents, Too!)
Be sure to be open and honest with your own adult children about the type of relationship you want to have and ways you can work to achieve it. Once you’ve had that discussion, try to communicate at regular intervals with your loved ones. Communicating regularly is critical to building a strong bond. Set a consistent day or time that works best for you to talk. This could be over the phone, a video call or meeting up to spend time together in person.
Thankfully in today’s world, there are various technologies that make staying in touch easy. With texting, calling, video chatting, social media, and more, you can talk anytime, anywhere.
2. Spend Quality Time Together
Quality time with your loved ones is irreplaceable. Choose events or activities that you’ll both enjoy. If you have multiple grandchildren, spending time one-on-one can help you make memories with each of them individually and according to their own interests.
- Cook something healthy
- Go to a farmer’s market
- Explore the zoo
- Visit a botanical garden
- Build a family tree
- Bake a dessert
- Read together
- Do arts and crafts
- Make a scrapbook
- Reminisce over family photo albums
- Go for a walk
- Learn new skills together
- Play music or sing
- Go have lunch at their school with them
- Visit an aquarium
3. Practice Active Listening
One of the most important parts of communication is listening. Active listening is a communication skill that can help you in all relationships. This skill is the practice of listening to understand, rather than respond. To do so, you must be fully present and show interest in the conversation, practice good eye contact and use (and pay attention to) non-verbal cues.
Instead of just asking about your grandchild’s likes and dislikes, keep them engaged in your conversation by asking them open-ended questions about their hobbies, classes and friends. 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 what’s happening in their lives shows them how much you care.
4. Be Supportive
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.” As a grandparent, your unique role enables you to be a voice of reason and a shoulder to lean on when your grandchildren need it most.
Keep in mind that, while your perspective and advice as a grandparent are invaluable, it’s important to respect Mom and Dad’s wishes. It takes a village to raise a child, so while they will likely want your support and advice, understand that their parenting style and rules take precedence over yours. This will pay off in the long run and build a healthy, trusting, respectful relationship.
5. Stay Involved
Remember, any relationship doesn’t happen without effort. If you live nearby, make time to be there for your grandchildren’s sporting events, plays and concerts as well as important milestones, events, holidays and celebrations.
You want your grandchildren to know that you’re dependable. Showing up for what’s important, being a consistent presence in their lives and using the above tips is the perfect way to send that message.
Stay Socially Engaged at The Stayton
While connecting with your grandchildren is important, you will also want to make time to get connected to your community. These friendships can help you navigate your transition into retirement and are important in reducing loneliness and improving your sense of well-being.
Living at The Stayton can enable you to easily find friendships. From enriching events to appealing services and amenities, and more, our community prides itself in being a place that helps seniors build strong relationships and find fulfillment. And, of course, your grandchildren are always welcome to visit!
Contact us today to see if The Stayton is the place you should call home.