35 Ideas for Interaction Between Grandparents and Grandchildren
In the 1900s, family experts became seriously concerned. Adult input into the lives of their children was steadily decreasing.
The attitude of Generation X (born 1965-1979) craving freedom and leisure in their golden years did not help. Grandparents became less available than they previously were to make up for the missing attention of parents, who were busy making a living.
There are several other reasons why grandparents were not at their traditional post, yet we are all aware of the social and emotional impact grandparents and grandchildren make on each other.
Research shows that grandchildren do not respond to the role of grandparent but instead to each person fulfilling the role. In other words, if grandparents, no matter where they are, fulfilled the role of grandparent to any grandchild needing adult interaction, both substitute grandparents and grandchildren would benefit. Here is a challenge in which we all are encouraged to participate.
The following 35 ideas for interaction between grandparents and grandchildren are intended to trigger even more ideas for fun, teaching opportunities, social and emotional satisfaction, whether the grandparents are biological or substitute. Each section begins with ideas suitable for interaction with the younger upward to the older. Some are good for any and every age.
If grandparents fulfilled the role of grandparent to any grandchild [whether or it is their biological grandchild] needing adult interaction, both grandchildren and substitute grandparents would benefit.
(1) Compliments on their outstanding attributes—appearance, speech etc.
(2) Commendation for deeds well done—anything from throwing the candy wrapper into the garbage bin to scoring a touchdown in little league baseball
(3) Encouragement and assistance to improve in areas in which they seem challenged
(4) Continual assurance of love in verbal expressions and hugs
(5) Stories featuring the grandchild to demonstrate his worth and his position in the family
(6) Family stories about love and loyalty as well as fights and forgiveness
(7) Bible stories—personal favorites and lessons learned from them
(8) Historical episodes about culture and customs “back in the day”
(9)Selected biographies of people who excelled in areas of interest to the grandchildren
Show and Tell
(10) Sightings of different colors and shapes around the house
(11) Family albums of members past and present
(12) Drawings, paintings, any kind of craft done by family members
(13)Fashion parade of outdated clothes and shoes
(14) A walk in the park or an a trail
(15) A visit to the zoo, identifying animals
(16) Identifying plants in the yard and neighborhood
(17) Sea shells or rocks or butterfly collection
(18) Admiring the sunrise, or sunset or a rainbow
(19) Listening, singing along, talking about and dancing to wholesome song lyrics
(20) Not just watching television; but watching a movie, turning off the television and talking about it
(21) Reading together (newspaper or magazine) testing comprehension, and discussing the subject matter
(22)Learning from the grandchild—features on your cell phone or on his iPhone, how to send an email etc.
(23) A birthday message, gift or visit on the grandchild’s birthday
(24) Special messages for first-day and first-day-back at school
(25) Meaningful gifts after an athletic game, craft exhibition, dance or music recital
(26) Attendance at graduations—school and extra-curricular classes
For the very young, anything that is not completed in a day is long term. So one or two days may be it all it takes to satisfy the concept for some.
(27) Jigsaw puzzles
(28) Board game competitions, for example, “Who will be the first to win three games?”
(29) Collectibles: postage stamps, hot dog coupons, small round rocks
(30) Planting seeds and waiting for them to grow
(31) Telephone calls to express love and inquire about the grandchild’s welfare
(32) Video chats on Skype or FaceTime in arranged regular meetings or sharing special occasions to match faces with voices
(33) Text messages—a teenager’s favorite way to communicate
(34) Instant Messaging on popular sites like MSN and Yahoo, or Facebook (if the teenage grandchild will befriend a grandparent)
(35) Snail Mail—the old fashioned way to express love from a distance through cards and gifts, for grandparents who are unable to use other media systems
- Grand Cultures: Strengthening Grandparent and Grandchild Ties
Social trends have reduced interaction between grandparents and grandchildren in many families today. But the intergenerational gap can be bridged.
Questions & Answers
I've been having a tough time finding something for my dad and daughter to do together. He's 70 and she's 15. They both love to dance. How would I go about finding something in my area? I've looked and can't find tap dancing for them to learn together. Is that a weird request?
Yours is a noble endeavor to find an activity that your father and daughter can share. Since there seems to be no tap dancing in your area, try something else. They can help you find something they both like if you talk with them. There's shopping in the mall; walking in the park; board games wherever they can find space; karaoke in the community center; driving on a country road; attending church services, concerts, sporting events, and the list goes on. If they want to, as much as you want them to spend time together, they will find a way.
© 2013 Dora Weithers