September 2, 2016

Interacting with Grandchildren – The Gift of Time Together

Attention: Grandchildren: Grandparents Day is 9/11/16.

Hey, even though I’m not a grandmother, I sure look forward to the day I am!

From what I hear, being a grandparent is a lot easier and better than being the parent. I’ll take that, thank you.

It’s not just the spoiling aspect that makes grandparenting special, but the freedom to love the family member without the same set of expectations we had with our own kids. We can listen and not pass the same judgment on their plans.  We are not knitted up thinking they should be something specific when they grow up, just because it reflects well on us.

Also, I think of grandparents as the quintessential people to show children low-tech, high touch, interaction, which our society definitely needs.

It was my own grandma that led to my career with people over 65.   I loved being one of four kids and going to see her by myself as I was growing up.  She doted on me all weekend.  ME!  Thank you, Grandma!  She’d ask, “What do you want for lunch, Dearie?”  “Do you want to go shop for a new shirt?”  I remember she had these gingerbread windmill cookies in her jar that was never empty.  By contrast, my own mom hid chocolate in her sock drawer, to stop us kids from finding it.  Anyway, I put two and two together and decided “old people” were the best!

If you’re uncertain how to interact with grandchildren, especially nowadays with technology being their favorite thing, here are a few, unique ideas:

Go outside together. 

This simple activity is gold because nature is the antidote to technology and we want young people to be outside more.  So go for a walk, explore, and connect. You might capitalize on the fact that your pace is a bit slower than the rush that others of us seem to be in.  How lovely not to rush, to not push for the next thing on the itinerary?  Kids need this.  We all do.

Odyssey Scooter from Drive Medical


Talk to your grandkids about items you used and saw in your lifetime that have disappeared now.

My mom shared this idea with me years ago.  She got to thinking about all the things she grew up with that were no longer a part of modern day, and made of list to share with my daughter.  I thought my then 13-year-old would balk or roll her eyes.  Instead, they sat on the couch together and laughed and chatted for over an hour.  My mom talked about paper drapes and carbon paper and bus tokens and my daughter listened with complete attention.  I kept an ear out and learned about things I didn’t know, also, and got to wondering what would be gone in my lifetime.  Maybe a corded telephone and a vinyl record will be completely gone when my grandchild comes along.

Do an activity involving music, singing or dance.

We know the power music has, so any activity involving music is wonderful. One activity can be to build a music list together, depending on the age of your grandchildren. My book suggests this activity between the generations and here’s a few ways:

  • Walk through your record collection together. Grandchildren can learn what songs you like and why. Maybe talk about a song you liked when you were the same age and what it meant to you. You can share the memories that go along with songs and most often this leads to animated conversations and unique stories of a time years ago. No one else can tell your grandkid these stories!
  • Grandchildren may know the technology to help you load those songs on your iPad or cell phone. This allows you to have songs to listen to easily if you are bored in an airport or during a hospital stay, etc.
  • Grandchildren can share what they are listening to with you, so you become hip about what the kids are listening to nowadays. People love a cool grandparent, right?

Gather your older grandkids to watch Alive Inside together.  I know this will move you all to deeper appreciation of the power of music.

Grandparents The Gift of Time

Get out your photos and walk through an album or two with your grandchild.

If the names are missing, take a moment to label the pictures while you are together.  Maybe have your grandkid label the pictures to help connect him/her to the names more deeply.  After all, some will be their relatives and they may be sharing the oral history in time to come.

Grandchild teaching to his grandparents to use a electronic tablet on a park bench. Generation values concept.

Let your grandchild teach you!

Connecting with your grandchild electronically (video-chatting) can be a good activity.

Don’t let distance keep you from having a face to face conversation! When you see each other and talk, you are teaching the art of conversation.  Your grandchild will learn about inflection, tone of voice, body language, and eye contact and you will have the pleasure of seeing them grow and change. In this age of texting, eye contact and direct communication is crucial.

Don’t be afraid to let them teach you too. Your grandchild can get real fulfillment out of showing you how to use that computer or tablet!

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