6 Ways to Connect with Your Teenaged Grandchild
Those of you with teenaged grandkids might have noticed some changes in their behavior and attitude recently. The once sweet children who loved to visit grandma and grandpa may now seem distant and aloof. You knew this was bound to happen, but that doesn’t make what you're feeling hurt any less. But don’t give up hope, there are ways to stay connected to your grandkid’s life!
When kids are young, grandparents are the coolest people in the world. They always have good stories, great food, and less rules than their parents. As kids start to grow up and hit their teenage years, they want to be more independent and social with their peers. That means that going to grandma’s house is cutting in to their time with friends. Do they still love you? Of course. You’re still important to them, you just have to make some adjustments and explore new activities so that they remember why you’re so great.
Embracing technology is probably the biggest change any grandparent will have to make, but it will go the farthest when trying to connect with your teenaged grandchild. It’s been this way for generations, but now technology is changing at a very rapid pace. But don’t get too overwhelmed, there are a few small changes that can go a long way to making your home more teen friendly.
The first step: if you don’t have Wi-Fi (wireless internet), strongly consider getting it. Have you seen the commercial where grandparents are reading messages their grandkids posted about grandma’s house? The reviews were not favorable for the houses without Wi-Fi. As teens get more and more connected to their phones and tablets, they’ll want to be able to stay connected at all times, and that means Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi can be great for you too! It will let you stay connected to the world around you, and can even make your home safer with the right equipment. If you’re worried about thieves being able to steal your personal data through Wi-Fi, you should know that a secure Wi-Fi network actually makes it harder for cyber crooks to steal from you.
“Kids these days are always on their phones.” There’s a reason for that! A smartphone allows teens to stay connected with their friends at all times. Remember when you were a teen? The phone was a key player in keeping in touch with your own friends. That’s still the case now, only the traditional landline has evolved in a huge way. It allows teens to feel independent, since it’s their own personal connection to the outside world. They can stay connected to you, too, if you adopt the new technology.
If you can, try getting a smartphone for yourself. Find out the brand your grandkid has and get a similar one. It doesn’t have to be the most up to date one, and it doesn’t have to have all the latest applications (apps), but try to load some of the apps your grandkid uses. If you don't know where to start when buying a smartphone, there are some designed specifically for seniors.
The important part is being able to stay in touch with your grandkid on their terms. Whether it’s by texting, through photo messaging apps like Snapchat, or through video messaging apps like Skype or FaceTime, it's up to them. Some messaging apps even let you play games like Battleship with the person you’re messaging. It can be a lot of fun!
3. Play mobile games
Getting a smartphone can be daunting, not to mention expensive, so it might not be the right choice for everyone. But that’s OK, a regular cell phone will still allow you to text and call whomever you need to. If you don’t have a smartphone, ask your grandkid if they have any games on their phone that you can play together. Chances are they will, and most are easy enough that you can pick up and play without needing any special skills.
Tablets are another great ways to play games. Because the screen on a tablet is usually much bigger than that of a phone, there are more options for games to play. Many of your favorite classic board games and card games have their own tablet version, and these digital versions usually have fun extras that the physical versions don't.
4. Watch a movie
If you read our 10 Things to Do When Your Grandchildren Visit blog, you might remember the “Create a list of movies to see” option. That’s still a great idea for teens! One of the good things about your grandkids getting older is that the movies they want to watch can start to align closer with your own tastes. It’s important to let your grandchildren pick most of the movies. Even if it’s not necessarily something you would watch, it can shed some light on their interests and you can discuss the movie afterwards.
This activity may not be for everyone, however, when a teen hits the right age there’s usually only one thing on their mind: getting their driver’s license. If you’re up for it, offer to spend a few hours in the car with them. This can be a great bonding time for both of you. You can teach them what you know, and you’re almost guaranteed to create some lifelong memories. You can even tell them stories of what it was like teaching their parents to drive! Mom and Dad will also be happy to have someone take this off their hands for a little bit.
Sharing a hobby with your grandkid can be a great way to bond with them. If you’re brave, ask them to show you what they're interested in nowadays, or pick something they enjoyed doing just a few years ago, like playing sports or drawing. A good way to help them feel like they’re not missing out on their social life is to let them bring a friend along. You can learn more about their own life this way, and there’s a good chance if your grandchild is friends with this person, you’ll like them, too.
Just because your teenaged grandchild seems like they are ignoring you, doesn’t mean you’re not important to them. They still need their family, but they’re also branching out and learning what else is out in the world. The best way to show them that family can still fit in their ever-changing lives is to show that you can change right along with them.
What do you think? Have anything you would like to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below.
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