by Mark Gregston
If you were to poll a group of adults today, do you know how many of them would say their fondest memory of childhood or adolescence involved a beloved grandparent? If I were a betting man, I’d say the answer to that question is probably more than half of those who were asked.
Grandparents are a big deal in the lives of their grandchildren and kids who grow up with grandparents who are active and relationally connected to them develop a higher self-esteem, perform better academically, and have better social standards and etiquette. It’s been proven over and over again that the influence of positive adult interaction in the life of a teenager is so very important and grandparents are a vital part of that system.
Grandparenting your young grand-teen doesn’t simply benefit the child, either. Being involved in your grandchild’s life has many wonderful benefits for grandmas and grandpas, too! The latest statics show that grandparents who have a relationship with their grandchildren live longer and have less battles with depression and other mental health issues. So, read on to discover five fresh ways that will help you reap the rewards of bonding with your grandchild while leaving a legacy for future generations.
Five Ways to Connect with Your Grandchild
- Show Interest: Grandparenting should be about your grandchild, not you. So, check your lonely-hearts card at the door. Grandparents have lots of wisdom to share with grandchildren, so take an interest in their world and the current situations they are facing. Apply your past experiences to their present situations to keep their attention, so that you can connect and transfer your wisdom to them.
- Adapt to Their World: Don’t complain about today’s world and the “young people” in it. A big buzz-word right now is “influencer.” Every kid—no every person out there is looking for a social media influencer to help guide them and direct them. So, learn more about the world your grandchild is living in so that you can meet them where they are. Be an influence in their life by adapting your message so it includes an understanding of the world they are growing up in and the challenges they are facing.
- Build a Relationship: Real relationships are the product of investing time, effort, and commitment. Today’s teens are looking for someone to be authentic with them. They are searching for someone who genuinely is concerned for them and the world they are navigating. So, make sure the relationships you’re building aren’t simply based rules and conditions. Be more to them than someone who corrects them when they mess up.
- Create a Connection: This involves much more than merely making things happen. Connections are created when there is mutual communication, effort, and a desire to spend time together. With deep connections, you’re providing hope and direction in life that will in-turn develop into deep and mutual love. When you decide to pour your life and love into your grandchild, you are building something that future generations will cherish and desire. Proverbs 13:22 tells us a good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children.
- Invite Your Grandchild to Ask Questions: Another great way to take an interest in your grandchildren is by asking them questions about their lives, their thoughts, and what’s inside their hearts. Learn why they believe what they believe or why they say what they say. What’s the heart motivators behind their comments and actions? This small act is something you can do that will build a mighty connection between you both which will lead to more questions and a greater connection.
What Your Teenage Grandchild Needs from You
Giving your teens your presence is the best present they can get from you, so don’t be shy with your time. Grandparents have years of seeing how the world truly works and you have the opportunity to give your grandchild something no one else can—time’s perspective.
Your grandchild’s parents haven’t been around long enough to have come out on the other side. But you have, so don’t be afraid to share your point of view with wisdom and love. So, convey your life lessons and wisdom through stories, not lectures, and they keep coming back for more. Humans were made to give love and receive love in return. It’s one of our most basic humans needs, so be sure to share your love freely with those nearest and dearest to your heart.
Grandparents … the best thing you can do with your time right now is spend it with your grandkids. They need you to be a messenger of timeless truth in their ever-changing world. And trust me when I say, they need you a lot more than you need them. The legacy that you leave as inheritance is not simply what you have left in their bank account, but is measured by what you deposited into their hearts. Help your grandchild see the world through eyes that have seen the wonder of this world and all that it has to offer. Help your grandchild see a world of experience that gives them another perspective on life. A big picture perspective that helps them see more than which is evident and beyond that which is right in before them.