How to Build a Strong Relationship Between Kids and Their Grandparents
September 8, 2023
by cora gold, guest contributor
The bond between grandparents and grandchildren is one of life's most precious connections. It's a relationship that offers mutual benefits, with both parties gaining from the shared experiences, stories, and love.
As parents, you play an essential role in fostering this bond. Here are some ways to ensure your children and their grandparents have a strong and enduring relationship.
1. Share Family Stories
Relationships between grandparents and grandchildren have measurable effects on each other's psychological well-being, extending into the child's adulthood.
One of the key factors in building this relationship is the sharing of personal and family stories. Their tales, filled with experiences, lessons, and adventures, provide a window into a world children might never know otherwise.
For instance, dedicate a specific time, like Sunday afternoons, for grandparents to share stories. This routine can become a cherished family tradition. Photographs and heirlooms can also make stories more engaging and help jog memories.
2. Express Gratitude
When children express appreciation, it fosters a sense of belonging and mutual respect. Individuals who regularly express gratitude experience increased happiness, reduced depression, and enhanced overall well-being. Within a familial context, these positive effects can ripple through generations.
Encourage your children to write thank-you notes to their grandparents. If your child loves to draw or craft, suggest they create a piece of art as a thank-you gift. The personal touch of a handwritten letter and a hand-made craft, especially in our digital age, holds immeasurable value.
You can also teach your children to express their appreciation verbally. Ensure they spend quality moments with their grandparents, whether reading a book together or going for a walk.
3. Embrace Technology
Technology can be a powerful tool to bridge the generational gap. Platforms like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime offer user-friendly interfaces that even those unfamiliar with technology can learn with a bit of guidance.
However, a significant portion of the older generation might need help to keep up with these changes. Over 60% of seniors own smartphones and a smaller percentage actively use online platforms for communication.
For grandparents, gift them tablets or smartphones with larger screens and straightforward interfaces. You can also dedicate a day where your kids can give their grandparents a hands-on tutorial on how to use these devices. This can be as simple as teaching them how to dial your phone number, how to accept a call and gradually move to making video calls.
Setting up a routine such as weekly or bi-weekly video calls is also important to give them something to look forward to and help them practice their tech skills.
Introducing digital communications to grandparents will open doors for more frequent and meaningful interactions with their grandchildren. Video calls can be especially beneficial for grandparents who live alone or far away, as they often struggle with feeling lonely or bored.
4. Discover Shared Hobbies
Engaging in mutual interests has been shown to foster deeper connections, improve communication, and create lasting memories between grandparents and grandchildren.
Grandparents and grandchildren who engage in shared activities report higher levels of emotional closeness. Their common hobbies lead to increased understanding and reduced generational conflicts.
To harness this potential, initiate discussions about interests and pastimes. Encourage them to try various activities, from crafting to gardening, until you find one that resonates with both parties.
To keep things fresh, consider rotating activities. This approach ensures that both the grandparent and grandchild get to introduce each other to their favorite hobbies.
5. Conscious Parenting Style
Children raised in authoritative households — characterized by a balance of warmth and discipline — tend to develop stronger interpersonal relationships. This extends to their bonds with their grandparents.
When parents actively foster open communication and mutual respect, children are likelier to adopt these behaviors in their interactions. Children from authoritative homes were more receptive to building relationships with extended family members.
To practice this, regularly discuss family values and the importance of close-knit relationships. Involve children in decisions that concern the grandparents, such as planning visits or choosing gifts. This inclusion reinforces the significance of the grandparent-grandchild bond.
Children often mimic adult behaviors. Displaying respect and affection towards the grandparents can guide children to do the same. Educate your child about the times when their grandparents were young, fostering empathy and deeper conversations.
Recognizing the influence of your parenting approach and actively promoting positive family interactions can help pave the way for a robust and enduring relationship between your children and their grandparents.
Fostering Close Family Ties
Cultivating a deep bond between your kids and their grandparents isn't just about occasional visits or holiday gatherings. It's about consistent effort, mutual understanding and unwavering patience.
The ties your children form with their grandparents will influence their perspective on family, love, and connection for the long haul.