Strategies to Maintain a Close Relationship When Your Grandchildren Become Teens

As your grandchildren head into their teenage years, you undoubtedly are like many grandparents across the country, indeed around the world. You may wonder what you should and should not do in order to maintain a close relationship with your teenage grandchildren. There are some basic strategies you can consider as a means of maintaining a close and loving relationship with your grandchildren as they move into the so-called “terrible teens.”

Make Spending Time With Your Grandchildren a Priority

You’re busy. Your grandchildren are busy. We live in a fast paced world in this day and age. 

You do not need to have to set a regularly scheduled appointment with your grandchildren. In the end, taking that course very well could become something of a burden for these younger people and even for you. What you can do is reach out to them to let them know how important they are to you. You can offer to do something simple and not too time consuming with them like taking them out for a meal. The bottom line is that if you make yourself available to visit with them at their convenience, you very well may find that you do see them quite regularly.

Ask Your Grandchildren for Their Advice

There can be an understandable tendency to want to give your grandchildren advice. Giving them advice from time to time is acceptable, but you do not want to overdo in this regard.

What you can do in order to maintain a close relationship with them is to seek out their advice. One area where you really may benefit from the advice of your grandchildren is in regard to tech issues and products. 

Your grandchildren almost certainly can give you advice in regard to electronic devices, apps, and other technology. For example, take a cue from your grandchildren about ways you can stay connected. Ask them about using technologies like Skype, Zoom, or Facetime.

While nothing takes the place of an in-person visit for building relationships and strengthening bonds, there has never been a greater variety of ways for people to communicate with one another than with these technologies. This particularly is the case no matter where you may reside, including if you call an assisted living community home at this juncture in time.

Respect Your Grandchildren’s Boundaries on Social Media

Teens value their privacy. This definitely applies to their activities on social media. 

Bear in mind that some teens are not comfortable having their grandparents in their “Friends” group on Facebook or following them on Instagram. Others are okay with their grandparents connected with them on social media. 

Whatever your teens’ views are on this, understand their need for independence and space, and don’t take it personally if your access to their social media is restricted by them. Do not complain to them about such a situation.

Keep the Focus on Your Teenage Grandchildren

Another strategy that can be helpful in maintaining a close relationship with your grandchildren is to keep the focus on them as much as possible. Focus on their lives and their activities, and not so much on you. Find out what your grandchildren particularly like and care about. 

Consider attending events in which they are participants, including such things as:

  • Sporting events
  • Recitals
  • Performances

Show your grandchildren that you are truly interested in them as individuals. Let them know that you sincerely do want to hear about the things they enjoy the most.

Find Common, Shared Nostalgia

You and your grandchildren do have a shared past. There can be times when it is enriching to your relationship with them to recount things from the past. For example, if you are having a meal with them, consider sharing some photos from when they were younger that they may have not seen for some time, if ever. 

Do not overdo in this regard. When sharing something tangible from the past like photos or videos, remember that a little bit can go a long way. If your grandchildren find this process particularly appealing, you can share things from the past (in reasonable amounts) when you see them again in the future.

Try to Better Understand Your Grandchildren

Psychology Today presents some thoughts on how to better understand your grandchildren and their generation better:

Young people today feel intensive scrutiny and judgment from every direction, whether it’s their peers, school administrators, society in general or even, perhaps, their parents. Talk with them, find out what they value and believe, and let them know you really want to understand their perspective on the world, even though sometimes you may see things another way. Your grandchildren will appreciate knowing that you respect them, that you are there for them without passing judgment, and that you’ll always have their back. Don’t feel the need to solve their problems. Rather, just listen to them, and let them know that you love them without conditions, completely apart from anything they may accomplish or do.

Make It Clear That You Love Your Grandchildren at Any Age

You need to keep in mind that over time and as your grandchildren age – and as you age – your relationship with each other will change. That is the natural course of events. 

Make it clear to your grandchildren that you understand that things have changed and will continue to change over time. Emphasize that although change occurs, it is not a bad thing. You will love your grandchildren and care about what they are doing no matter their age – or your age. 

Certainly, you can cherish the past. But never lose sight of the fact that if you maintain a healthy and appropriate relationship with your teenage grandchildren, you will make new memories going forward into the future. 

In the end, by engaging your grandchildren with the strategies discussed in this article you will be able to build a meaning relationship with them as they enter into their teenage years. You will all be better for it.