Talking to your teenage grandchild can be challenging and even a little discouraging at times. But don’t give up or take it personally. Speech development begins in infancy, blossoms in childhood, and stops dead in its tracks at adolescence.
If you’ve built a strong bond with your grandchild over the years, you may expect that it will continue during the teen years. But often that bond can be tested during the pre-teen and teenage years. These are the years when your patience and love may be needed more than ever before. Recognize that your status as “best bud” may drop down a few notches below your grandchild’s friends.
It’s difficult to adjust to these changes. We can feel empty and wonder whether our grandchildren even think about us, let alone want to see us. As our grandchildren get older, what used to be “fun activities” with grandma and grandpa no longer interest them. We don’t see them as often as we used to. Now their weekends keep them exhausted as they’re shuttled around from back-to-back activities.
Please keep reminding yourself that it’s not about you. You didn’t do or say anything to alienate them. It’s a normal developmental stage they’re going through and probably their parents are experiencing a similar distancing. This stage can put a strain on the grandchild/grandparent relationship. Spending time with others their own age is normal and even preferable since their peers at least understand them.
Still, you are a vital part of your grandchild’s life. You just have to adjust your position to one that is favorable to your grandchild. Let her know you love her, miss her and want to hear about what’s going on in her life. If your grandchild communicates by texting, learn to text … and use those emojis. You’ll make her smile.
Connecting With Your Teenager
Two years ago, I wrote a post “How to Talk to Your Grandchild” and gave some simple tips for talking to your grandchild. Most importantly, talk to your grandchild when she’s young so you build a history together and she becomes accustomed to your voice. Always be fully present (don’t be checking your phone or email) and listen with your heart open and your inner critic silenced. Now is not the time to be making judgments about hair, clothes or friends.
My favorite technique is to pretend I’m an anthropologist studying an exotic tribe. I want to learn as much as I can about what interests my grandchild and how she thinks and acts.
I know my 15-year old granddaughter is unusual and I feel very fortunate that sometimes she and I will talk for over an hour. I’ve learned some tips from her about what to talk about and how to listen. She enjoys “reporting” on her many activities. She’s told me about her newest favorite singer, (this week it’s Molly Kestner;) the latest picture she colored on her “Recolor” app; Korean beauty tips she’s picked up on Instagram; what she feeds the injured hawk at the Nature Center where she volunteers; and the piano or violin music she’s currently practicing.
I save articles for her about music, fashion, authors — any topic of interest to her — and share them with her when we talk or get together. She also loves to answer the daily “Super Quiz,” (trivia and facts concerning famous people, literature, geography, history, science and entertainment) in our local newspaper.
You may experience some false starts but keep trying. Ask your adult children for help in staying connected. Tell them you’d like to attend an event or activity with them. Invite them for a family dinner or picnic or a multi-generation vacation. Ask them to bring a friend along if you don’t mind sharing your grandchild with the friend.
Just because your teen grandchild is growing up doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of his or her life. The visits may not be as frequent as when they were little. But stay hopeful — if you can be patient and do with a little less, they’ll grow up and appreciate how lucky they are to have you in their lives.