July 2024

Secrets to Building Relationships with Your Grandchildren

Being a grandparent is a unique and precious role. It’s a chance to influence young lives, share wisdom, and create lasting memories. As grandparents, we have the opportunity to connect with our grandchildren on a deeper level and instill values that can guide them throughout their lives. Here are five secrets to building the best relationship with your grandchildren, drawn from personal experience and timeless principles.

Cultivate a Love of Learning
One of the most impactful ways to bond with your grandchildren is by fostering their curiosity and love of learning. Instead of asking the usual “How was your day?” try something more engaging and thought-provoking. For instance, when I picked up my grandkids from school, I would ask, “What was ONE new thing you learned today that you didn’t know yesterday?” Initially, they might respond with “nothing,” but with gentle probing and breaking down their day, they’d eventually share something new they learned.
This not only encourages them to reflect on their day but also teaches them to appreciate the value of learning. Over time, they began to look forward to sharing their new discoveries with me, making our time together rich with meaningful conversation.

Encourage Self-Discovery
In addition to academic learning, it’s vital to help your grandchildren explore their inner worlds. I often followed up our learning question with, “What was something you learned about yourself today and what was the circumstance that you learned it?”

This question invites introspection and self-awareness, encouraging them to understand their emotions, reactions, and personal growth. The answers they provided were often insightful and helped us bond on a deeper emotional level. By fostering self-discovery, you help your grandchildren build a strong sense of identity and confidence.

Be Genuinely Curious and Present
Children can sense when adults are genuinely interested in them. Show your grandchildren that you are genuinely curious about their lives. Listen actively, ask open-ended questions, and show enthusiasm for their stories and achievements.

When you are fully present, you create a safe and supportive environment where they feel valued and understood. This not only strengthens your relationship but also boosts their self-esteem and sense of belonging.

Share Your Wisdom and Stories
Don’t underestimate the power of your own experiences and stories. Sharing your life lessons, challenges, and triumphs can be incredibly valuable to your grandchildren.

These stories provide them with a broader perspective on life and can teach them resilience, empathy, and other important values. Whether it’s a story about your childhood, career, or a significant life event, your experiences can offer guidance and inspiration. Remember, it’s not just about the lessons but also about creating a legacy of wisdom and love.

Create Rituals and Traditions
Rituals and traditions create a sense of continuity and belonging. They can be as simple as a weekly game night, a special greeting, or a holiday tradition. These regular activities become cherished memories and reinforce the bond between you and your grandchildren. In our family, our post-school conversations about learning became a cherished ritual.

These moments of connection and routine provide stability and a sense of security, which are essential for a strong relationship.

Final Thoughts
As grandparents, we have a profound impact on our grandchildren’s lives. By cultivating a love of learning, encouraging self-discovery, being genuinely curious and present, sharing our wisdom, and creating meaningful rituals, we can build deep and lasting relationships with them.
These connections are not just about imparting knowledge or advice but about being there as a source of unconditional love and support.

At my older twins’ high school graduation, they reminisced about our daily conversations on what they learned. This tradition had a lasting impact on their lives, underscoring the importance of our role as grandparents.

Let’s not take for granted the wisdom and love we can pass on to our grandchildren. By asking the right questions and being fully present, we can truly know and inspire the next generation.
Contact the writer at [email protected] with ideas about grandparenting.

By Shelley Whizen

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