There is a very simple answer as to how to entertain tween or teenage grandchildren.
It’s understanding that you can’t. The quality of the time you spend with a teenage grandchild is mostly in their control, not yours.
A lot of internal dialogue is going on in the lives of developing young adults. While you might feel like you’re crunching through a decent share of your own challenges, they’re seeking solutions to real and anticipated challenges tenfold.
The secret to maintaining a good relationship with your grandchildren is to understand this. It doesn’t mean you need to bend to their mood or requests above your own.
Having empathy for the noise going on in a young adults mind will give you cues as to what activity you may be able to enjoy together.
You have a fantastic opportunity to play a special role in your grandchildren’s lives and leave a legacy of cherished shared moments.
Grandparents play a critical role in grandchildren’s lives
According to the most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, grandparents provide child care for almost one in three children of working parents. That figure doesn’t account for ad hoc child minding provided by grandparents.
This means that today’s seniors are contributing in a significant way to how the current generation is being raised.
Here are some tips on how to connect with your grandchildren and enjoy mutual respect for one another.
Connecting with teenage grandchildren tip #1: Invite them to bring their technology along
Mobile technology is a part of your grandchildren’s lives at school and at home. In many cases, it is how your grandchildren socialise and manage their relationships.
Live in the moment with your grandchild. Ask questions about the latest app or social media channel that they’re using and how it works if it’s not familiar to you. As you embrace their reality, you’ll be surprised by what you might learn along the way.
Connecting with teenage grandchildren tip #2: Ask them what they’d like to do today
With the craziness that is a teenage child’s life, you may find that your grandchild or grandchildren are happy to do very little. Ask them if there is anything they’d particularly like to do.
As a teenager, one of my favourite activities was just to be at my grandmother’s and throw rubber rings at the hookey board. I also loved sitting in the storage shed, going through piles of old magazines. I’d go straight to the puzzles, crossword and find-a-word pages. These weren’t activities I’d have boasted to my teenage friends about but I simply loved the quietness of it!
Keep it simple. They already feel their lives are complicated enough.
Connecting with teenage grandchildren tip #3: Teach them something new
Do you play tennis or golf? Can you whip up a storm in the kitchen? Are you up for a game of chess, or poker? Is gardening something you’re good at?
Busy minds are often best distracted into the moment with busy hands. Enjoying an activity together where you have an opportunity to mentor them, may be an opportunity to connect and build mutual fond memories to look back on.
Try a knowledge exchange – ‘teach me how to set up and use Snapchat or how to take a good selfie, and I’ll teach you how to prune a hedge…’
Connecting with teenage grandchildren tip #4: Feed them
Growing bodies crave food. I love marmalade jam. While I rarely have it at home, if I stumble across it at a breakfast buffet I’ll often choose it. It was at my grandparent’s house that I first experienced marmalade jam. Since then, memories of my grandmother often evokes the citrus twang of marmalade jam.
Teenage grandchildren can be fussy, but when away from their home environment they may discover new flavours that will always connect them with their grandparents. Eating out is a good option too. It is an opportunity for conversation and new experiences shared together.
Connecting with teenage grandchildren tip #5: Stay in the moment
The key to mutual enjoyment of time together is to always stay right in the moment. If conversation is flat, don’t force it.
When conversation is flowing, encourage it. Make sure you’re really listening when your teenage grandchild is in a chatty mood.
Ask questions to keep the conversation going. Don’t change the topic if the conversation is lively – stay with it. If they’re sharing a challenge or problem with you and you’ve overcome a similar situation, share a story with them.
Importantly, if they’re comfortable sharing something with you in confidence – keep the content of the conversation in the moment too.
The truth is, despite the tips, it can be tough being a grandparent to teenagers. Teenagers grow in to adults and if you’ve built a healthy relationship of mutual respect, they’ll come back to you in time.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics