We’d love to stay close to our grandchildren, but it can be tough to bridge the generation gap when they grow older. We ask them about their day, and they say ‘Fine.’ We try to give advice, but their eyes glaze over in boredom. It can be even harder when we don’t regularly see our grandchildren, because they live far away.
Bridge the gap with these tips on how to have great conversations with your grandchildren. These can help you get them to open up—and have one of those meaningful heart-to-heart talks that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Give them your 100% attention
Remember how busy we were when we were raising our kids? It was hard to give that 100% attention, because we had to worry about making a living! As grandparents, we have more time—and it’s good to let our grandchildren know that ‘I am really, really here for you—100%, anytime you need me.’
You can do that by making direct eye contact whenever you talk to yor grandchildren. Turn off the TV and the computer, or take them on a long walk where you can talk uninterrupted. If they live far away, send emails or call, just to say Hi and say, ‘I’m here—and I just want to listen and know how you are.’
Don’t jump in with all the answers
We’re older and wiser, but our grandchildren don’t always want to hear the advice. Sometimes they just want to tell us what’s happening in their lives, or ‘just have fun’ together—and jumping in with unsolicited opinions will only make them clam up. Hear them out, ask them lots of questions, and share only when they feel they’ve had their chance to talk.
For example, you could say, ‘So what do kids do now, on Saturdays?’ Then try it out! Does he like video games? Ask him to show you one. In turn, offer to teach him a game from your childhood. You can also try something both of you don’t know, and learn it together.
Set regular bonding time
Even if you can’t see each other regularly, you can still be a stable part in your grandchild’s life by setting a regular ‘date’ with him. For example, you can set every first Saturday of the month as your monthly trip to the ice cream parlor. Or Skype every Sunday morning. You can also try these ideas on how to bond from a distance.
Look for things you can talk about
IF you find that you have no common ground for conversation, create one. You could bring out old photos of yourself when you were his age. You can take him to a war museum and talk about your personal memories of growing up during World War II. You can forward interesting emails and say, ‘What do you think? Do you agree with him?’
Photo from northjersey.com