Growing up, I secretly wished for an Auntie Mame type of grandmotherly figure who'd dote on me and lavish me with lots of sweet treats and more hugs and kisses than I could stand. Although I'm sure my grandparents loved me, neither set was very demonstrative, and unfortunately my monthly encounters with them were, for lack of a better word, uncomfortable. While I never got the grandparent experience I longed for, my kids are luckily reaping its benefits and then some. Because of my parents' grand gestures, my daughter's bedroom is filled with every article of clothing ever manufactured by American Girl, and my son has every superhero accessory the Marvel Comics empire has conceived.
But I also see with my kids and my parents that the foundation of their close-knit rapport has always been based on quality time they've spent together. Even the mere act of my parents driving my kids home from school, spending that seemingly mundane quality time is what has ultimately created a comfort level that no amount of material things could possibly compare to.
Keep reading for more ways grandparents can bond with their grandchildren!
GRANDCHILD ICE BREAKERS
Let your grandchild fill in the silent gaps.
Young children are usually quite open. Once they reach elementary school, though, it's harder to find opportunities to talk with them. When you do, make sure to strike up the conversation when you're alone with your grandchild. Allow for pregnant pauses that can give your grandchild the chance to confide in you and even tell you secrets.
Ask open-ended questions.
Instead of asking, “How was school today?” ask “What did you do in science class today?” This way, you don't give your grandchild the option of ducking out of a conversation with a one-word response such as “Fine” or “OK.” And avoid questions that begin with the word “Why?” Those types of questions often make kids defensive.
Scrawl a likes/dislikes cheat sheet.
At any age, most children like to tell you about their friends, the games they play, their dolls or action figures. Make yourself some conversation-starting cheat sheets so you can keep up with your grandchildren's latest interests. Learn the sports teams they like and how to play one or two or their favorite games.
Draw, sew, play together.
Some of the best conversations with grandchildren begin while they are drawing or playing with their toys.
“Cherished Memories: The Story of My Life” album and binder provides thought-provoking questions, offering an opportunity for a grandchild to help her grandparent chronicle the various stages of his or her life and ultimately create a lasting treasure for the grandchild.
What kids will go gaga for
Interviewing their grandparents and learning about all the historical elements of their grandparents' lives which are so different from modern-day life.
Filling out this binder validates their life's journey, gives them the opportunity to pass on their history and fosters a deepened relationship with their grandchildren.
It requires a lot of patience and a well-rested hand since there's a lot of writing involved. (My advice, fill it out at a leisurely pace, set aside a half-hour during each visit you share with your grandchild.)
The perfect way for grandparents to share with their grandchildren their childhoods, teen years, adult life and all that they have overcome.