The elders in the family, especially in our culture, have always had a massive role to play – whether you talk about taking decisions on behalf of the family or just being around for advice when you most need it. Urbanization, digitization and the explosion of nuclear families over the last few decades caused a physical and emotional rift between the elders and the youngest members of the family.
Every grandparent looks forward to the birth of their grandchild and holding the baby in their arms for the first time is the happiest moment of their lives. From that moment on, with every passing day and year, they see their most-loved possession grow into something beautiful. During the younger years, kids tend to be very close to their grandparents, but as time passes and children grow up into teenagers, the equation tends to change a little.
This International Day of Family, here's how you as a grandparent can take few steps to strengthen the bond with your children and grandchildren.
The relationship between grandparents and teenage grandchildren
It is no secret (or surprise) that grandparents are hugely influential in the lives of their grandchildren. And there are several things that reinstate their importance along with how the bond between them can be made stronger. Relationships between grandparents and teenage grandchildren can often be very delicate and need to be handled with utmost care.
While during the teenage years, kids may develop low patience levels, a short temper, and an even shorter attention span, it is important that the grandparents stay connected and play the role of a guide-cum-friend (rather than a tutor). Teenagers go through different emotional phases and physical changes in this time, so it is vital that the grandparents share their years of wisdom with them in a natural way, which the teens can easily absorb and learn from. Even as adults, we still love listening to fascinating stories, don’t we? The same applies to teenagers as well. Instead of lecturing them about what they should do and what they shouldn’t, a storytelling approach works best in most cases. And fortunately, as grandparents, the art of storytelling comes naturally to you!
Being there for each other
The 13 to 19 age bracket is susceptible to feeling socially awkward or having difficulties dealing with their social relationships and issues. This is prevalent in children who have witnessed a rocky relationship between their parents or live with a single parent. Some studies suggest that teenagers feel comfortable confiding in their maternal grandparents compared to any of the other elders in the family.
One important thing to remember is not letting the grandchildren feel like they do not have anyone to go to (and vice versa). Reassuring each other that the longstanding bond will only grow stronger in the future is equally important. And thanks to the multiple technology options at your disposal, it is easier than ever to stay connected. If the physical distance is the only thing that is keeping you away from each other, you can share regular updates, videos, and pictures and make trips once in a while.
In most cases, grandparents are emotionally very attached to their grandchildren, but it is equally important for them to understand that at this stage in life, the teenagers are extremely volatile and unpredictable. So, it is best to give them enough space, understand their needs and help them blossom into endearing human beings.
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