My parents always insisted that my brother and I sit and listen to grandma’s stories. Our cousins didn’t have to, and back then we were envious.

Today, however, I am grateful that I know that when she was 10, grandma could walk from one end of Los Angeles to the other and that her father helped found Winslow, Arizona. That is my heritage, and I want to pass it on.

These days, it’s harder to get kids to pay attention. You are competing with multiple devices. Getting them to put those down to listen to ‘boring’ old grandma stories can be a battle not worth fighting.

 
 

When you are trying to help your grandchildren know their heritage and make a closer relationship with them, keep in mind their parents may not be as insistent as mine were.

Can’t beat ‘em? Join ‘em

Enlist your grandchildren in a technological video project. These are important to make in the first place.

When Dad was 91, I sat him down and recorded, over time, 15 short videos about the history of his and Mom’s weekly newspapers in 1950’s Iowa. If you would like to see how simple, yet elegant these can be, check them out here. Anyone can do this.

These oral histories are something people should do for their family history. Using them to bond with your grandchildren is an added bonus.

Meet Your Grandchild in a Comfortable Setting and Use the Correct Equipment

Know where your grandchild is going to work best. Would it be in his room or is she going to be happier with other family around? Should you go outdoors or stay in?

Make the equipment simple. A 9-year-old might want a simple project with a cell phone and small tripod. Your teenagers would be bored with that and are probably ready for a more complex project with editing.

You could entice with inexpensive technology such as the gift of a basic tablet with a camera or an editing software. Then ask them to teach you how to use it. Collaborate.

Know Your Goals Before Approaching Your Grandchild

What do you want from the relationship? Be realistic. You might hope that this will make you best friends. It probably won’t, but it will bring you closer.

Even if it doesn’t show immediately, and with shy children it certainly won’t, know that he will know more about you and you him. You will have made an unforgettable impression.

Also, make sure that the project interests you both. Example: My mother played basketball on one of the first girls’ teams with three courts. That became two and then one court, like the boys play.

A granddaughter on a basketball team would learn about her sport and her grandmother. If you don’t know what you have in common, ask the parents.

Prepare for Different Styles: Some Ideas

If you do a simple interview be sure to prepare a list of questions to be asked. You don’t have to do them all in the same video. Several short videos are more interesting than a single long one. This works especially well for shy children of any age.

If you and your grandchild have a passion in common, she can really learn about you. If you are both sports nuts, use a remote to film both of you watching a game, talking about similarities and differences between then and now. Prepare some questions to look for during the game.

You might want to show them your yearbook or baby pictures and discuss what you see, in relation to today.

Think of new ideas for format, just be sure to take your grandchild’s personality and abilities into account.

Whatever Product You Get Will Be a Family Treasure

Here are 3 things you can do to thank your grandchild: give them a film credit, post the video on YouTube, and don’t forget to send it out to the family.

Accept the Personal Gains Made

  • Be realistic and in the moment; appreciate what you get.
  • Know that some movement happened, even if it isn’t apparent now.
  • Make sure to get to know him better, while he is getting more familiar with you.
  • Add a treasure to your family heritage.

Have you ever filmed a video with your grandchildren telling the story of your life? What other ways have you shared your family heritage with your grandchildren? Please share your creative ideas below.

Margo ArrowsmithMargo Arrowsmith is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, passionate about aging in the community. Currently, she provides therapy for the elderly and their families. Margo is the author of You Can Keep Your Parents at Home: Keep Your Job and Life, Save Your Fortune and Sanity.

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