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The Challenge of Grandparents Today

by Mark Gregston

I like to believe that grandchildren are a special kind of reward for making it through the challenges of raising your own kids.  I also believe that most grandparents want to be involved in the lives of their teenage grandchildren, but with busy schedules and ever-demanding social calendars, finding time to connect with the ones you love can be a challenge.  So, before you sell your house and move to Florida to play extended rounds of shuffle board and canastas all day, be sure to keep reading for some helpful tips that are bound to help you overcome the challenges of grandparenting today’s teen. 

It’s Gonna Take Some Work … But It’s So Worth It 

The world your grandchild lives in right now is complicated and it’s only going to get more so as technology advances.  There are going to be things you like and dislike about today’s culture, but this the world your teen lives today.  So, instead of shrinking back in the corner or waiting to fade off from the scene, get with the times and engage with your teen.  Learn what’s going on around them.  Get your teenage grandson or granddaughter to help you step into the 21st century with style and pizzazz.  Join Snapchat and set up an account with only your grandkids.  Or connect with them on Instagram.  Social media platforms are where today’s teen is living and interacting, so get online and get connected. 

Keeping things positive is another great way you can help.  Your teen doesn’t want to hear about your latest medical mishap nor do they need another set of parents.  What they want and what they need is someone who is interested in hearing them and what they have to say.  So, ask your teen lots questions about them and then listen more to what they tell you.  Parents are great for dispensing information.  Grandparents are great for dispensing wisdom.  Grandparents have the unique opportunity of bringing hope and perspective into the lives of their families. 

And for those grandparents not living close by, there are some things you can do stay connected.  In today’s world, we don’t have to wait for the postman to bring us the latest news, we can text, skype, hold calls with Zoom, Facetime, and even video chat with Facebook or Snapchat.  The key to building a relationship with your grandchild is to create the opportunities that help you connect to them and then relationship aspect will fall into place naturally. 

Then lastly, no matter where you live, providing your grandkids with a place where they can shelter from the storms of life is one of the most precious things you can do as a grandparent.  Take the time to show your grandkids you’re just as willing to run to them now that they’re older, as they were willing to run to you when they were younger.  And speaking of running, don’t let your age become a factor.  The more active you stay in your grandkids’ lives, the more active you’ll stay in your own life.  Your teenage grandchild needs you to be as fit and as mentally healthy as you can be because they need the influence that only you can bring. 


Mom and Dad … God is keeping your parents around so they can have an influence on your children.  Teens today need your parents’ wisdom and gray hair.  They need to receive your parents’ perspectives about life and all their experiences … which is something that they can get only from them.  The greatest challenge facing all grandparents is figuring out how to remain engaged and influential in the lives of their teen grandchildren.  So, help them shift the way they engage with your child as your child’s needs change and grow while helping them remain connected to your kids.  It’s no secret grandparents are a needed component in the family structure, so support your parents as they set out to provide a place where your teen feels relaxed, refreshed, and encouraged. 

Author: Mark Gregston

Mark Gregston began working with teens more than 40 years ago as a youth minister and Young Life director. He has authored nearly two dozen books, has written hundreds of articles, and is host of the nationally-acclaimed Parenting Today’s Teens podcast and radio broadcast.