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In this ongoing series, LIFE IN FULL, we are writing to Baby Boomers (those of us in our 50s, 60s, and 70s) about how to maximize our Longevity and our Legacy. Find new episodes here every Tuesday and Thursday, and read the overview and catch up on earlier articles in this series by clicking here. Today’s article is part of a “series within a series” as we focus on grandparenting. The previous grandparenting article can be read here.
No matter how we look at it, the emotional core of Life In Full has a lot to do with grandchildren. In fact, in one poll indicated that 82% of 65 year old grandparents called their grandchildren “the best part of my life.”
Another way to say it would be:
The idea that no one is perfect is a view most commonly held by people with no grandchildren—Doug Larson
Earlier in this series, we did an article on being a “champion for our grandkids” which you can read here. Today, we want to mention two things that are absolutely essential to a good relationship with a grandchild today. One is individual time, perhaps in the form of one on one “dates”, and two is social media and technology:
Grammie or Grandfather Dates…
We have had so much fun taking our grandkids out on little private, individual dates. For the pre-schoolers, individual time might be just reading a book together or playing with toys or going to a nearby playground together.
Once a year I (Linda) take our grandchildren who live close (who happen to be nine and older) to a special concert they want to see or to a symphony to introduce them to the finer things of life. I don’t mind leaving at half time for younger kids whose attention span lacks the ability to sit still for long periods.
And it is highly entertaining and enlightening to take a grandchild to dinner…one on one. Take a notebook and ask questions and record the answers. Sometimes it is so interesting to ask them the same questions each year as they grown older and see how their answers change.
We usually start with asking what is the happiest and the saddest thing that has happened since we saw them last. We get fascinating answers!
Here are a few ideas for other questions:
What is your favorite food?
What is your favorite song?
What is your favorite movie and why?
What do you love?
What do you fear?
How happy are you on a scale from 1-10?
What do you worry about most?
What is an example of something kind you did for someone?
The best way we have found to communicate with our grandkids that live far away is through social media! Several of our children have incredible blogs so we can keep track of what is happening to their families whether they live in Arizona or England but the one-on-one contact directly with the kids is so much more important.
We used to use email but we have found that our older grandchildren and teenagers never look at their email account even if they have one. But they do text and they do use Facebook and Twitter and many have Instagram and Flickr accounts. Especially fun with the little pre-schoolers is FaceTime and Skype. It’s such a dreamy way to keep up with what is going on with your long-distance grandchildren! If you don’t have a clue how to use those sites on your computer or phone, its time to figure it out—or ask a grandkid!
We have had some particularly interesting interchanges with our grandchildren through Instagram. Just commenting on their posts lets them know that you are aware of what they are doing. And it may also make them a little more cautious about what they post.
Bottom line: make it a conscious goal to have a special, personal relationship with each grandchild. And use individual time together and the power of technology to achieve it!