The Go-To Grandparent

Being a grandparent is a special bond in the family — when it works. When it doesn’t work, oh dear!
I’ve learned a lot from being Life Story writing coach for elders. I’ve done this for years and, boy, do I know why your grand kids run for the hills when you get near. So, this is all about you.
Why Your Grandchildren Don’t Like You:
1. You make mean remarks about how they look. So they’re tattooed, pierced and all in black. So what, everyone under 20 pretty much is right now Get over it. It’s what kids do. You danced the jitterbug or whatever all night long and your grandparents thought you were headed for hell. Remember how much you hated all their mean attitudes. How did you turn into them.
2. You broadcast, you don’t have conversations. I know you want to help them be all that they can be — see how kind I’m being right now to you? But, really, no one wants to listen to a long lecture from someone who doesn’t bother to know who they are before lecturing.
3. You act like a know-it-all and you can’t even get on the internet. That makes you a bit of a caveman, you know. Ask a grandson or granddaughter to teach you how to do email, how to look things up. Be humble enough to learn something valuable from them.
4. You’re standoffish or lazy in the ways you communicate. You act like they have to take you as you are. Guess what? They’ll leave you as you are.
5. You boast about your past. If you just waited for the right time to talk honestly about it, it would be a much more valuable experience.
How you could have a better relationship with the Grand kids:
1. Spend alone time with each one and, maybe, ask what is their favorite place and would they take you there
2. Invite them out to lunch and ask each of them what they’d most like to do in their life. Whatever it is, sit back and listen. Don’t judge. But do explore more.
3. Get into the habit of emailing them — but no forwarding those awful jokes, okay. That what people do who can’t be bothered to actually have real contact with each other
4. Be sure to let each one know something good you noticed about what they did or said each day you see them
5. Just as you don’t want them to be ageist, make sure you’re not youngest.
Find out what other people do who have successful relationships with their grandchildren. Read books. Read magazines. The art of making deep contact with others didn’t really get going until about the 1960s, as far as I can see. Emotional reticence is out of the fashion now. These days we talk. We tell everything.
We text it, we email it, we look at it on YouTube. Ask them to show you their favorite YouTube videos, and no complaining about them, okay? Be a good guest.
Why would you do this? Not only to make a better bond of knowing between you. But, grandchildren who love you, cross the country to be with you and help when you need it. In every possible way, putting yourself into direct real relationship with your grandchildren is a wonderful investment.

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