“Hey, Mom,” my son said walking into the kitchen, “You’ll never believe what Grandma said.” Launching into a conversation he recently had with his Grandma, I listened on pleased but inwardly sighing. My son relayed how he had come to some profound conclusion, with his grandparent’s help, of course. And now he knew what he needed to do. Hmmm…I think I just had this same conversation with him…oh, I, don’t know…500 times before. Funny though, until one of his grandparents said it, it didn’t make any sense to him. Grandparents have super powers like that. Teens greatly benefit from relationships with their grandparents and that bond truly matters. Here are 5 reasons to foster teen and grandparent relationships.
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5 Reasons to Foster Teen and Grandparent Relationships
Part of creating a happy connected family is wisely using ALL our resources as parents. Fostering the bond between our kids and their grandparents can be one of our biggest supporting assets. Prioritizing these relationships may require us moving closer to family, spending vacation times with family or make the extra effort to SKYPE or communicate in other ways.
But the payoff to encouraging the grandparent / teen relationship can be huge to the overall emotional health of the family!
Grandparents Offer Teens Wise Counsel (with less judgement)
As our teens become older, they want to expand their wings a bit. Teens have new ideas and thoughts on how they want life to go. Some of their ideas on what they want to do with their life can be a little unrealistic. And often, we as parents will jump to correct our teen fearing that they may decide to act out some of their overly romantic notions.
Parenting Teens? Read here how to use Laughter and Humor in parenting!
Grandparents offer a safe place for a teen to express what they are thinking and feeling. Grandparents typically listen without jumping in to “fix” the situation, since they are not the parents. This gives the teen a person to safely share ideas with less worry that the adult is going to shoot their ideas down or ‘freak out”.
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And since grandparents tend to reserve judgement, when a grandparent does offer advice a teen is typically more willing to hear. This relationship where a teen is willing to share and to listen is a vital piece of the puzzle for a teen’s healthy emotional growth.
A healthy grandparent relationship doesn’t replace the parent/ child relationship. Instead it strengthens the parent/ teen relationship covering over those areas where tensions and misunderstandings might otherwise have an opportunity to build.
Like the story above, while one of our boys might not have been able to hear the advice from me, they were able to hear, practically the same words, from their grandma.
Grandparents Foster and See a Teen’s Talent
Grandparents typically adore their grandkids. They think most of what their grandchildren do is pretty fabulous.
As kids grow, grandparents can offer a different perspective on ways teens may be skilled or talented. This vantage point offers additional moral and sometimes financial support.
As parents, we see first hand if a teen is skipping music practice time at home. Or we may be overly sensitive to their lack of effort out on the soccer field. And part of that is our job to push our kids and call them out when we feel like they are not giving their best!
But grandparents can offer support without reservation. And sometimes teens just need to hear that praise.
Little Red has started baking in earnest the last year – thank you Mary Berry of The British Bake-Off and Pinterest;) She decided last fall that she wanted to make a Baked Alaska! What?! Now, I am a VERY experienced baker, but I never tried anything so daunting. I mean there is a mini blow torch involved!
But my friend offered my daughter the mini blow torch before I could even say anything. And Grandma thought is was a fabulous idea. So knowing that Grandma would love it no matter what, we tried to it out for her birthday celebration.
Little Red did way better than I could have imagined. And since I knew that Grandma would love it and just be excited that her granddaughter made it, it allowed this stressful dessert making process to be a fun experience! Even with the quickly melting ice cream and blow torch involved. And what a boost to Little Red’s confidence!
Grandparents also may see gifts and talents that others have overlooked. They may encourage a gift that a teen isn’t even aware they have. Or it may take too much time. Sometimes grandparents may step in to offer support to help the teen make some of these connections.
Grandparents Provide Healthy Social Structure for Teens
Kids really need boundaries. And they want to feel like they are headed the “right” or popular direction. Sometimes what we are telling our kids, if we are trying to provide a strong value based structure for our kids, isn’t always popular. But grandparents can be another voice encouraging those values.
Obviously, each family is different, but grandparents often share many of the same hopes for their grand kids as the parents. This positive reinforcement can help steer and shape a teen in a positive way. The desire for your teen to care about their family, be hard-working, successful in school, honest, a good citizen, able to speak for themselves or disciplined will usually be supported by grandparents, even if it looks a little different at times.
In my husband’s family, being a man of your word is so important. The family name means more than just a name. It is your reputation. And this is something that is passed down and emphasized.
Those extended family relationships can provide healthy pressure for teens to think before they act and remember that there are other people involved other than just themselves.
So instead of raising your kids all alone in a world that shows on TV and social media that its normal to be having sex by fourteen or go out rioting and breaking things if you don’t like something, you have support in your corner.
Grandparents Teach Teens Another Set of Skills
Did you learn a lot from your grandparents growing up? I know my husband and I both did. We talk fairly often about all the things we learned from spending time with our grandparents. Sometimes it was tangible skills like farming or art. Other times, it was character qualities like being thankful or overcoming.
And we are very thankful for all that our kids have learned from their grandparents. Love of the outdoors, canning, working hard, baking, skiing, writing, reading, gardening, sewing, and to follow the Lord are just some of the things our kids have learned from their grandparents.
As parents, we definitely don’t want to miss out on so rich an opportunity for our kids to gain valuable talents. We can cultivate this rich education by encouraging our kids to spend time with grandparents and speak highly of the skills that they have.
Grandparents Connect Teens to Their Family History
And lastly, grandparent help teens connect to the past. There is a big difference in just talking about World War II or Vietnam versus saying, “Hey, did you know that two of your Great Grandpas served during World War II ?”
History becomes more alive if we can hear first hand accounts or know that someone we are related to was there. And in our family history is hugely important. We want to honor and teach our children to honor sacrifices that have been made. We also want our children to see that history repeats itself and to make wise decisions based on that knowledge.
When teens care for their grandparents, they tend to care about what they lived through. Those relationship bonds gives teens a broader perspective about life. Our teens then have the blessing of both youth and enthusiasm along with some wisdom of years lived.
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5 Reasons to Foster Teen and Grandparent Relationships
So did you have a close relationship with any of your grandparents? What was one thing you learned from them?
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Just a Note to my Readers:
I know that for some of you this may be a hard subject. Perhaps your parents are not in an emotional healthy place in their lives. Or they live so far away it is a struggle for your children to have a relationship with them. If for whatever reason it does not work to foster the teen and grandparent relationship, I have seen families “adopt” an older couple or person as their grandparents. This offers a much needed relationship to both teens and the elderly. Just something to think about:)
JuliE B @ Dogwoods & dandelions says
Such a great article. A grandparent took my son out to practice driving recently and they had the best time. I’m sure my son learned some driving skills that I wouldn’t have thought to teach him too!
I love this! I just read this aloud to my mom and my daughter. Priceless, Miranda!
Thanks Kim! Awww…I love to hear that you had were all hanging out together!
Kirsten @ Obtainingbliss.com says
Such great advice! I know I learned so much from my grandparents and I am always encouraging my kids to spend time with their grandparents. I especially love the note about “adopting grandparents”, we had older neighbors that we adopted as our kids’ grandparents since their “real” grandparents lived farther away and couldn’t see them as often.
Hi Kirsten! Thanks for sharing how “adopting grandparents” has worked for your family. Yes, my grandparents were all super important to me too and vital in my growth as a person.
Heather Bee says
What a great post to remind all of us of the importance of grandparents in our kids’ lives! I know that both of your sets are really involved and how evident the positive influence of these close relationships is. Also love the pics you’ve chosen to share; the love just shines through!
I had almost too many pics to choose from for this post;) Yes, my kids are very blessed to have such involved caring grandparents. Thanks for commenting!
Colleen Wildenhaus says
What a wonderful article. My children are so fortunate to have their grandparents close by and actively involved. They gain so much from another set of people to love and support them…and have fun!
I agree Colleen! That is wonderful that your children have such involved grandparents. Thanks for sharing:)
What a great post! You brought so many sweet memories back. I learned a lot from my grandparents! Unfortunately, our kids are not that lucky and don’t really know what it is like to have the grandparents… I hope to one day be able to be a good grandma to their kids.
Hi Nat, so glad you enjoyed the post. I’m sorry that your children do not have grandparents in their lives. I hope that your kids have plenty of others that encourage and cheer them on in all their endeavors.