Complaining about how things “were better in the good old days,” seems like a rite of passage for many grandparents. After all, through the lives of our grandchildren, we see firsthand just how much the world is changing around us.

Circumstances Change, but, People Stay the Same

The truth is that, while technology and culture change over time, people do not. Our grandchildren still face all of the same challenges that we did as kids. They just do so in a vastly sped up environment.

For many grandmas, learning to deal with modern grandkids can be a challenge. Not only do we have to learn to understand the technologies that define our grandkids lives, but, we also need to understand the social pressures that they are under.

To help the grandmothers in our community to build stronger relationships with their grandkids, I recently interviewed Donne Davis of the GaGa Sisterhood, a community for modern grandmas. I hope that you enjoy the interview!

 

Here are 6 pieces of advice from Donne Davis on how to build stronger relationships with your modern grandchildren.

Get Comfortable with Technology

One thing that has changed since we were kids is that families tend to be more geographically dispersed. For example, in my case, I live in Switzerland, but, my granddaughter lives in Scotland with my youngest son.

Fortunately, technology can make staying in touch with our grandkids easier. In fact, since technology is so integrated into our grandkids lives, you could argue that it is essential to communicating with them, even if they live in your city.

Of course, using any new technology is tricky the first time. It took me several weeks to get the hang of all of the features in Skype. Now, I look forward to my weekly calls with my granddaughter. It’s like having a window into her little world.

By now, most of us have conquered Skype and Facebook, but, why stop there? If your grandkids feel comfortable with it, why not join them on Instagram or Snapchat?

Offer Quiet Time

Grandchildren have always tended to be a bit overstimulated. This is especially true for our grandkids, who face buzzing alarms and blinking lights at every turn.

Donne explains that grandparents have a key role to plan in providing a sanctuary from the busyness of everyday life.

Would your grandkids appreciate taking a fishing trip with you? Could you take a drawing class together? Are there special places in the great outdoors that you both love to visit?

The possibilities for creating a comfortable environment for your grandkids to experience are endless!

Listen and Ask Open Questions

Let’s face it, parents are chronically stressed. This was true when we were parents and it is true for our grandkids’ parents.

One of the nice things about being in your 60s is that you have a little extra time to relax. Even if you are still working, your career probably isn’t moving forward at the frenetic pace that it once was. As a result, you can take the time to engage in meaningful conversations.

Many women tell me that they have a special relationship with their grandkids. For better or for worse, there are certain topics that their grandkids just feel more comfortable discussing with them. Whether you are dealing with a teenage girl with questions about boys, or a young man with questions about finding a job, you can provide a non-biased perspective, based on decades of experience.

Let the Parents Lead When it Comes to Discipline

During our interview, I asked Donne whether she though that it was appropriate for grandmas to discipline their grandchildren.

She rightly pointed out that it is vital to follow your grandchild’s parent’s wishes. There is nothing worse than thinking that you did the right thing, only to find out that you are the one in trouble for your behavior.

This is one area where it is best to discuss things up front. Don’t leave anything to chance. Sit down with your grandchild’s parents and talk about the different scenarios and how they would like you to handle them.

Who knows, maybe they’ll actually be smart enough to ask for your opinion too! If nothing else, they will appreciate you taking the time to understand their wishes.

Offer Unconditional Love

Parents are pulled in every possible direction. They are doing an incredibly difficult job, managing their work, family and social commitments. Grandparents have the opportunity to offer unconditional love.

Many women tell me that this is one of the best things about being a grandma. You can let go of all expectations and just be there 100% for your grandson or granddaughter. It’s a wonderful feeling and one that it truly unique.

Learn from Each Other

Being a grandmother isn’t all about giving. It can also be a wonderful opportunity to learn and enrich our own lives.

Especially as our grandchildren get a little older, they provide countless opportunities for learning. As Donne points out, based on her own experience with the GaGa Sisterhood community, women with grandchildren tend to feel and act younger. They may even be more likely to take an active approach to healthy aging.

Try to keep an open mind as you develop your relationship with your grandchild. The truth is that they have as much to teach you as you have to teach them – and that’s a wonderful thing indeed!

Do you have grandchildren? What advice would you give to all of the new grandmas in our community? What have you learned about being a grandma? Please join the conversation.

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