Creating a bond now will help you connect to teenage grandchildren later.
Do you remember that feeling when you first held your grandchild? That physical rush of connection with this baby that you were just handed?
My oldest grandson is 4. Yet I first felt that rush of emotion 14 years ago, when I held my niece JP.
She wasn’t my first niece or nephew—not by a long shot—but she was my youngest sister’s first child. That sister was born when I was 15, and she was very much my first baby. So when her child was placed in my arms, it felt like a miracle. I felt an instant connection that I hadn’t felt with any of my other siblings’ children. And though I’m incredibly fond of all of my nieces and nephews, there is still something special about JP.
Now JP is 14, and we don’t see each other often. But she’s recently gotten an Instagram account, and I can see what she is doing and thinking regularly. And I can see, that as a teenager, she still needs adults in her life to help her process the world. Her parents are doing a great job of guiding her, but it’s going to get harder and harder for them as she gets older. And that’s when grandparents (or aunts!) can be the adults she needs.
Many of you are new or expectant grandparents. I know what you are thinking—my grandchild won’t be a teenager for years! But now is the time to set the stage for a relationship where you can be the person they need when they are a teen, and beyond.
What does a teenager need?
The work you are doing now to make sure you are a part of your grandchildren’s lives will ensure that they know they can count on you for all of the above. Don’t ever underestimate how important it is to just be there for your grandchild, whether it’s in person or on the other side of a screen. Keep talking, laughing and providing encouragement now, and when they are teenagers they’ll know they can count on you.
Need some connection ideas? Read some here. And for a great podcast about grandparenting teens, check out this episode of The Grand Life.