My grandparents had a huge impact on my life. Hearing their stories and listening to their advice made them some of the biggest adult influences in my life as a child.
My grandfather’s love for the written word, and a clever turn of phrase, influenced by own love for writing. Recalling my grandmother’s tenacity, working as a secretary to raise her children alone after her pilot husband died in a plane crash, lends me strength when times are tough.
And I regularly whip up my grandfather’s famous stir fry and make my grandmother’s comforting chicken stew.
My relationship with them has a lot to do with who I am today. And an informal poll around then office revealed I’m far from alone. It turns out most adults I know feel much the same way.
How about you… did your grandparents play a big part in your life growing up? If so, you might be surprised by the findings of a recent UK study. I know I was.
How much do your grandchildren know about you?
Researchers found that among the group of five to 18 year olds they polled 41 percent admitting not knowing whether their grandparents had any special skills or talents. Forty-two percent of the kids under nine had no clue what their grandparents had done for a living.
And just five percent said they found their grandparents inspirational.
It wasn’t all bad news, of course. A full 64 percent of kids described their grandparents as friendly, loving or kind. And over 60 percent of kids said their grandparents give great advice and are good listeners.
In other words, if you’re a grandparent you don’t need to lose any sleep worrying about whether your grandchildren love you or listen to you.
But if the findings of the UK study hold up elsewhere there likely is some room for improvement when it comes to connecting and sharing stories of your life and accomplishments.
4 fun ways for grandparents and grandchildren to bond
Make the most of your time with the grandchildren with these four sneaky and effective bonding secrets for getting them to relate to you.
And I promise you your own children will be THRILLED that you’re spending more time with the grandkids.
1. Ask your grandchild to teach YOU something:
It’s easy to take on role of the “teacher” when you spend time with your grandchildren. After all, you didn’t get all those gray hairs for nothing. You earned every single one of them, so you naturally have a lot of knowledge to share.
But putting on your teacher cap could cause your grandchild to tune out. Ask him to show you how to do something, such as how to set up your new tablet or find cooking videos on YouTube, instead.
Then once you have him talking you can slyly slip in your own lessons along the way. For example as he shows you how to download a recipe app to your phone you can tell him about the first time you tried to throw a dinner party and ended having to serve franks and beans from a can after you burned the roast.
2. Play a few rounds of “would you rather”:
Trying to start a conversation with a grandchild by asking how his day at school went is likely to end with a one word answer like, “fine.” But even the most surly preteen will find a round of “would you rather” hard to resist.
To play this entertaining little thought game you simply need to come up with a few funny or, shocking scenarios. For example, “Would you rather swallow a grasshopper or walk around the block in your underwear?”
A few of these silly questions will break the ice and have you both giggling up a storm in no time. And they can smooth the way for you to tell some of your own best stories, like the time you accidentally DID swallow a bug or lock yourself out of the house wearing nothing but your socks and underwear.
3. Rat out their parents:
Nothing spurs bonding like sharing a laugh with your grandchildren about how their dad or mom made a silly decision when they were younger. Trust me, kids love to hear family stories that make their own parents seem more human. And who better to share them than you?
Next thing you know they’ll be swapping their own tales with you. Which makes it the perfect time to reveal some of your own misadventures growing up as well.
4. Cook up a meal and conversation:
Kids are natural chefs. They love to cook, but don’t often get the opportunity. Use this interest to your advantage by inviting them to make a meal, or do some baking, with you.
Before long, you’ll find the conversation flowing. And if things are still a bit too quiet try asking conversation sparking questions like, “What’s the WORST thing you’ve ever eaten?” or “How many raisins do you think you could fit in your mouth?”
Do the grandchildren live too far away to cook together? This is where technology comes in handy. Email your grandchild the recipe and get mom and dad in on the act. They can help set up a Skype session so you can still cook (and eat) together across the miles.
You know your grandchildren love you. But make sure they KNOW you too. Use these simple but effective bonding tricks to connect starting today.