It’s always a pleasure to watch younger and older generations interact, especially when witnessing the special bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren. These relationships are mutually beneficial and can be strengthened by frequent, quality interactions and even long distance communications.
As the Multigenerational Program Manager at Hebrew SeniorLife, I often see seniors incredibly eager to spend time with their grandchildren, but they wonder what specifically to do with the time. What kind of things will keep them happily engaged? What are they interested in these days? The truth is that it doesn’t always have to be complicated. Try not to over think it! Enjoy the moment, and they will too.
Here are a few ideas that may seem intuitive, or might spark a new idea or conversation:
Take an interest in their interests: Attend your grandchild’s youth sporting event, extracurricular class or other activities.
Plan a Special outing: Look in the newspaper or online for local theater production or sporting event (colleges have great games for kids). Plan a special birthday trip or toy store outing. Go to the movies. Buy a project at a craft store to do together. Go out for lunch or to a museum.
Encourage good habits: Read to your grandchildren or help them with their homework. Or ask them to read to you or explain their homework. They have lots to teach us!
Be a good listener: Ask your grandchildren about their friends, school, activities, or likes and dislikes.
Distance the distance: Send letters, emails or home videos or make regular telephone calls (you can do this even if you live nearby).
Teach your children a game from your past: Find a great game like Rummikub, Jacks, Mahjong or Gin Rummy. Doing a puzzle together is always fun!
Do a Project: For those with younger children, consider a subscription to Babbaco.com, and have monthly craft projects sent to you to enjoy with your grandchildren.
Share stories of past and present: Share stories about technology of the past and now. You can discuss how phone use has changed. What is the role of music in our lives now and in the past. What games did you play on the playground as a child?
Connect online: Use online sites for grandparents such as Skype, Grandparent Games, other web-based games. Better yet, ask your grandchildren to show you some of the games online that they love and try it! Don’t be afraid to fail. You’ll be surprised that some of them are really fun!