When your children were still young, you might have spent time daydreaming about them eventually sharing a magical connection with their grandparents. Perhaps you envisioned grandma sitting on the porch swing telling them stories or grandpa taking them out in the yard for a game of catch. As your kids grew up and reality set in, though, things might have started to look a little bit different.
Kids and Grandparents
While the connection between kids and grandparents may feel like a no-brainer, there’s no guarantee that a bond will naturally develop. Sure, they’ll love each other, but that extra spark of friendship and care isn’t necessarily going to automatically appear.
If that’s the case for you, don’t be discouraged. Sometimes all that’s missing is a little encouragement. Here are a few simple ways to inspire your children and their grandparents to connect on a deeper level.
1. Look for Connection Points
At first glance, it may look like the kids and grandparents have very little in common, especially in these days when technological development is constantly distancing generations from each other (more on that further down). Nevertheless, taking the time to look for shared interests can be a great starting point.
Some common passions may be obvious. For instance, if you have a daughter who’s taking piano lessons and you have a grandmother who used to play classical piano, you can encourage them to talk about their shared experiences.
In other cases, you can look for topics that simply have the potential to foster shared enthusiasm. If your child’s grandfather plays chess or goes fly fishing, for instance, encourage him to share his passion with your kids and maybe even get them involved.
2. Help Your Parents Understand
In spite of all of the different forms of communication in the modern era, it’s pretty shocking how hard it is for people to understand each other. Part of that comes from the fact that the world is constantly changing.
When it comes to helping grandparents to connect with their grandchildren, it’s important to keep this in mind. If they’re technology averse, for example, try to teach them how to use that Roku or help set them up with a smartphone that’s easy to use in order to gently immerse them in the technological realm.
If they can be exposed to their grandchildren’s world, they’ll be more likely to positively engage with them.
3. Help Your Children Understand
Of course, talking to your child’s grandparents isn’t the only way to facilitate a connection. You can also talk to your children, too. Bring up the interesting things that their grandparents have done and explained why “Nonni and Pa” are more than just a source of presents and fun.
If their grandad worked for a telephone company when he was younger, for instance, recommend they ask him what it was like to climb telephone poles. If their grandmother played soccer in high school, have them ask her what position she played.
Along with helping your children appreciate the value in their elders, also use their grandparents as an early example of how they can form healthy relationships — a soft skill that all children should be taught before they leave home.
4. Enable Time Spent Together
When it comes to you, the parents/child, don’t be afraid to be the middlemen when it comes to facilitating time together. After all, long-distance relationships never work without actual work, right? If your children and their grandparents are going to bond, they need plenty of face-to-face time. Here are a few suggestions for ways to bring your extended family together for some bonding time:
- Play a game.
- Read a book.
- Go to the park.
- Have a movie night.
- Plan crafts.
- Invite the grandparents to special events like the movies or going to a theme park.
- Set up chances for your kids to FaceTime with their grandparents.
5. Try to Be Available
Finally, make sure that you’re available to both your kids and their grandparents as they’re working on building connections with each other. Don’t just drop off the kids and turn “connecting time” into your own ticket to free babysitting. Make sure to remain close by as they work on building connections and always be ready to step in and help if things go south.
For instance, if your child starts throwing a tantrum, don’t hesitate to step in and take care of it. Leaving it for the grandparents to address can shatter any positive vibes and can push them into feeling like they’re simply parenting again. They’ve put in their time in the trenches already. It’s time to let them simply enjoy the positive benefits of healthy relationships with their grandchildren.
Bringing Generations Together
Encouraging intergenerational connections doesn’t have to be complicated. Often all it takes is a little mediation to bring these two different worlds together, and the results speak for themselves. When done thoughtfully, your children’s grandparents will experience a greater feeling of energy and purpose and your children will develop a sense of love and appreciation for the elders in their lives.