How well do you know your grandchild? I like to think I know mine quite well. But then, I remember back to my own childhood. Considering the gifts I got as a child from my own grandma, I have to wonder if she thought she knew me.
If she did, why would she knit me a pair of house slippers when I was eight? Do you have any idea how uncomfortable it is to stand on knitting? It’s like walking on knots.
The truth is, I don’t remember having a lot of real conversations with her. For that matter, I’m not sure I’ve had the type of conversations that I should be having with my own grandchildren.
Nevertheless, we can never go wrong trying to know, and understand more.
Ken Canfield has some excellent suggestions.
1. Simply ask questions. Go out for a frozen yogurt and ask about her friends at school, and what they like to do together. Always be ready with an interesting question about what they like, their hopes and dreams, or “what would you do if …” kinds of questions.
2. Whenever you can, spend time on your grandchild’s turf. Go to their soccer practice; sit in on a piano lesson; attend their orchestra concerts; go with them to the swimming pool.
When you’re around the grandkids, you probably hear them talk about who’s doing what: who hit a triple at the softball game, who did a flip off the high dive, who played the Chopin piece perfectly. You can enjoy their stories, but it’s even better to be there and see it all, and it helps you be a better grandparent. The more you know about your grandchildren, the more you’ll be able to help them cultivate their unique gifts and talents.
3. Provide them with plenty of opportunities to discover their interests and talents. Chances are, finances are limited and your grandchild might not get to explore some new passion or interest, whether it’s gymnastics or the violin or whatever. Maybe that’s where you can step in and help, assuming her parents approve.
4. Give feedback, especially when it’s praise. You don’t have to be an expert—just tell them you’re proud of their efforts and offer your positive observations. Believe me, coming from you this will be a big encouragement for them.
5. Listen to your grandchild’s friends, teachers, coaches, and especially their parents. All these people see a side of your grandchild that you don’t, and they’ll give you insights you would have never noticed on your own.
Because we are two generations, or more, older than our grandkids, it’s important we enter their world as often as possible. That’s why the Pokémon Go is such a good idea to play together. Nevertheless, you don’t have to chase fantasy monsters around the city to share in your grandchild’s world. Even though you might have more fun than you ever imagined.