8 Thoughtful Ideas to Help You Keep a Strong Relationship with Your Grandchildren
There’s nothing quite like the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. In fact, the two generations can have profound and positive effects on each other’s psychological health and welfare.
But it’s not always easy to know how to ensure that your relationship with your grandchildren stays strong. That’s why I have put together this guide that will help you maintain a great relationship with the little ones in your family.
Be Present as Much as You Can
Your grandkids will grow up very quickly. One minute, they’re being born. The next minute, they’re fully grown-up with jobs and their own families.
Most children form deep, loving bonds with their family and friends from a very early age, and young babies do indeed bond emotionally with people who give them regular care and affection.
That’s why it’s important that you’re there to share in their world experiences from day 1 – or as soon as you can, if you have missed out on the earlier years.
Being present is important in itself. Also, it gives you more time to develop your relationship with the grandkids.
Share Stories and Family History
Nowadays, almost one-quarter of grandchildren have no idea what their grandparents did for a living before they retired.
It’s really important that children know about family history and stories. As a grandparent, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your grandchildren have a connection with their ancestors and family heritage.
What was life like when you were young? What is the proudest achievement of your life? What were your grandchildren’s parents like when they were younger?
But you don’t have to answer such questions with stories alone. You can show your grandchildren photographs, bits of film and scrapbooks of vacations and special occasions.
As your grandkids get older, you can even share stories of how you fell in love. Maybe with your grandchild’s grandma or granddad.
Spend Time Together One-on-One
If you have more than one grandchild, it’s not always easy to spend one-on-one time with each child. But if you’re serious about establishing a strong bond with the child, you simply have to find the time.
Does your youngest grandchild love to play soccer? Take him/her to see his/her favorite soccer team, or just play together in the park.
Does your eldest enjoy going to the movies? Go to the cinema with him/her and don’t shirk on the popcorn.
By spending alone time with your grandchildren, you’ll build a stronger bond together.
Playing Games Together
Reports show that children are spending over two hours per day glued to electronic devices. Your grandchildren may enjoy playing computer games with you. But you can also take the opportunity to show them games from your childhood.
Are there any board games that you used to play as a child? Maybe you can share a card game you love?
By playing games together, you have fun while learning how the other’s mind works.
Make Use of Technology
With over 10 percent of grandparents living at home with the grandchildren, you might not have to use technology to communicate. But what if you live far away from your grandchildren? All long-distance relationships can be difficult.
If you have a smart device, you can use Facetime or Skype to keep in touch. This allows you to stay connected with your grandchildren even if they live far away.
If you’re not very tech-savvy, you can take the opportunity to spend time with your grandchildren (or talk over the phone if you are too far away) while they instruct you how to use Skype or Facetime.
You can also ask your grandchildren to set you up with a social media account, such as Facebook. This way even if you’re not in touch all the time, you can follow what they’re doing through the pictures and statuses they post online. And your comments on their posts show that you are present in their lives.
Research shows that regular ‘photo calls’ between grandkids and grandparents can have a really positive impact on both sides.
Discover What You Have in Common
Children of different generations enjoy spending time doing different things. However, there are plenty of activities that never get old. Think about reading stories, baking cakes and cookies, kicking a ball around and watching sports together.
Discover what you have in common with your grandkids and enjoy the activity together to cement your bond.
You’re Not in Competition
You’re probably not the only grandparent your grandchildren have, that’s why it’s really important that you’re willing to share your grandkids with the other set of grandparents.
Your desire to spend quality time together with your grandchildren can easily switch to a competition between grandparents. But by competing for the affection and time of your grandkids, you’ll only push them away.
Instead, learn to be happy that your grandkids have more than one set of living grandparents.
Keep a Healthy Lifestyle
If you want to develop a strong grandchild/grandparent bond, you need to be around for years to come. You can do that by adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.
Regular exercise and physical activity is also a must. In fact, keeping fit will give you the opportunity to spend time doing sports together or playing in the park.
If you want to build a strong bond with your grandkids, you have to work at it. I hope this list of ideas helps you nourish the relationship you have with your grandkids, so you can make the most of the time you have with the little ones in your family.
What kind of bond did you share with your grandparents? Does it bring warm feelings when you think about it? When spending time with your own grandchildren, what kinds of activities do you prefer? Feel free to share your most recent grandparent-grandchild adventure in the comments below.
Dr. Carissa Coulston is a clinical psychologist who specialises in the research and treatment of adult mental health problems including depression, mood swings, anxiety, worry, trauma, etc. She conducts therapy with individuals as well as couples to promote better mental health, relationships and quality of life.