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Is it just me, or does it seem like our older grandkids are nearly impossible to bond with? As a teenager, I can remember being extremely close with my grandparents, as we lived in the same town and attended church together every Sunday (followed by a big family dinner). Sadly, times have changed, and this is no longer the norm, which leaves many of us scrambling for ways to stay close.
Don’t worry, Grandma – I am here to tell you that nothing is impossible and that you can keep a strong bond with your older grandkids by doing these 12 easy-to-implement tips:
1. Keep the lines of communication open
In this digital era, staying connected is easier than ever. A simple text message, video call, or social media interaction can be a wonderful – and maybe even preferred! – way to stay in touch with your older grandkids. Encourage open conversations by being interested in their lives, their challenges, and their victories. Show that you’re not just a grandmother but also a friend they can rely on. It’s important to keep in mind that communication is a two-way street, so while you should respect their space, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Building shared interests can provide a beautiful and meaningful bridge between generations! Whether it’s cooking, gardening, knitting, or even a TV show, showing interest in what your grands are interested in can go a long way in making you a part of their world. (Not sure what they are into? Don’t be afraid to ask!)
3. Remain relevant
Remaining relevant doesn’t mean you have to stay updated with every trend or fad that comes along, but rather understanding the world your grandchildren are growing up in. Learning about the technology they use, the music they listen to, or the influencers they follow can make you a part of their conversation. Moving into this space could be as simple as asking them to show you how to use a new app or discussing a recent movie or series they enjoyed.
4. Value their independence
As your grandchildren grow older, they will crave more independence and space, and respecting this is key to maintaining a healthy relationship. Encourage them to make their own decisions, take on responsibilities, and learn from their mistakes. While it’s important to guide them, it’s just as important to give them the room to grow and become their own person.
5. Prove emotional support
Being a teenager or young adult can be an emotional rollercoaster (I remember those days well…), and having a loving and understanding figure like a grandma can provide immense comfort. Be there to listen when they need to vent, offer words of wisdom when they seek guidance, and simply lend a shoulder to lean on when things get tough. Reassure them that it’s okay to feel and express their emotions and that they can always count on you, their doting Grandma, for unconditional love and support.
6. Maintain a physical presence in their life
When possible, being physically present in your grandchildren’s lives can strengthen your bond, so make it a point to attend their school events or performances, invite them for a homemade meal or a sleepover, or simply spend an afternoon together going for a walk or playing a board game. These shared moments create lifelong memories and a deep sense of belonging.
7. Celebrate the big (and small) milestones
Marking milestones together, be it birthdays, graduation days, or other achievements, helps to build shared memories and shows your grandchildren that you value and take pride in their accomplishments. I know you don’t need me to tell you, but make it a point to remember and celebrate these important days in their lives!
8. Foster traditions
Fostering family traditions can give your grandchildren a sense of continuity and belonging. How does one do this? It could be anything from a special recipe that you always cook together, a game you always play, or a place you always visit. Not only does this create a special bond between you, but it also gives your grandchildren lasting memories that they may one day pass on to their own children.
9. Teach life skills
Imparting your wisdom and life skills can be a fantastic bonding experience. Whether it’s teaching them to knit, how to balance a checkbook, or showing them how to cook their favorite dish, these lessons can serve them well into adulthood and also make them feel closer to you. Plus, they might just discover a new passion or hobby in the process!
10. Provide a safe haven
Teenage and young adult years can be tumultuous, filled with changes and challenges, so having a safe and calm place to escape to can be incredibly valuable during this time. Make your home a safe haven where they feel loved, accepted, and comfortable. Keep their favorite snacks, maintain a cozy guest room, or create a quiet space where they can study or just relax.
11. Encourage their dreams
As a grandparent, you can play a crucial role in encouraging your grandchildren to follow their dreams. Show interest in their aspirations and goals, and offer advice or support where you can, as it shows that you believe in them and value their ambitions.
12. Make them feel special
This one comes naturally, I know, but it is still a good way to end this list! Remember your grandkids likes and dislikes, praise them for their achievements, and show them unconditional love. Small gestures can have a big impact, whether it’s a thoughtful gift, a note of encouragement, or simply telling them how proud you are.
Being a grandma in your grandchildren’s teenage and young adult years is a special privilege, as it’s a chance to watch them grow, guide them through life’s ups and downs, and build a deep, lasting relationship that spans generations. Remember to be patient and give them the space to come to you in their own time and their own way.