6 Dec 2015

11+ ways to improve the grandparent grandchild relationship Part 2

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Continuing on. Part 1 covered items 1-5. This blog will cover the remainder. I'd love to hear your comments and experiences 

What are some of the challenges? 

1.Keeping in contact enough.
2.Remembering that communication is a two-way act.
4.Virtual grandparents.
5.Accents can hinder the ease of communication. 
6.New cultural and behavioural norms.
8.Environmental differences.
9.Visits there or here.
10.Quantity v quality.
11.Talking it up

How can the challenges be overcome?

6.New cultural and behavioural norms. Grandparents are two generations away from their grandchildren. The behaviour of the adopted country can be different to the country of origin. The grandparent may feel they don’t understand the different values of the place their grandchildren are being brought up in.

Solution: Be patient with your parents. Explain the reasoning behind the different cultural practices. Identify the parts of your upbringing that you want to include in your children’s life that was similar to your own upbringing.

7.Reluctance. There may be resentment that you, as an immigrant, have taken their grandchildren away. You have to appreciate that your parent may feel robbed, especially as many of your parents' peers will be telling their grandchildren 'brag' stories. 

Solution: Patience helps.. Put yourself in their shoes.  How would you feel if your children became less accessible?Ask your parents how you can make it easier for them to keep in touch with their grandchildren.

8.Environmental differences. Being in a different time zone or season or climate are all disconnecting factors. You cannot share and empathise with what is going on in each other’s lives.

Solution: Be informed about what is happening in their world. Figure out a time of day that is going to work for themBe understanding if mistakes are made.

9.Visits there or here. There will be a bit of breaking the ice between grandparent and grandchild. They are seeing each other 24/7 so it is impossible for either party to be on their best behaviour all the time. 

Solution: Give the grandparent and grandchild time to warm to each other. When the grandparents and children are together for limited, if precious time, try and engineer time for them alone so they build on their relationship. The dynamics are different without the generation in the middle. Have confidence that your children will charm your parents in some way. If the children don't, the grandparents are usually wise enough to see past any slow-to-warm behaviour. While the grandparents are visiting - see how to make the most of house guests. 

Clip from  my book, Chapter 10 Family and friends come to visit.

10.Quantity v quality. Obligations or desire to keep in contact may be different. A daily photo of a grandchild over a phone may be appropriate and easy for a parent, but not so for the grandparent. Every child's first event is a wonder and to be cherished. The grandparent has less 'firsts' of thier life to return a post or photo.

Solution: Be attentive to quality contact. The more you put in, the more you will get out of it. Strong relationships involve effort. A daily flick of the phone photo is not enough. Use a variety of methods to enhance the relationship.

11.Talking it up.  A parent influences their children. They can be a barrier or a bridge to the relationship with their parents and parents-in-law.

Solution: Be a bridge at all times. It is likely that the grandparent/ grandchild relationship will be different to your parent-child relationships. When talking about your children's grandparents, do so in a way that will give the grandparent-grandchild relationship the chance to be as good as it can be. Tell positive stories about your own childhood, and pass on the stories of your parents' childhood. If you talk about your parents with respect and love, your children will pick up that their grandparents are worth finding out more about. You may have differences with your parents and/or in-laws, but put those aside and let your children work out their relationship with their grandparents.

Other links you may find useful

Connecting with a daily Skype. Here 
Benefits of a bilingual brain. Here
More ideas with new technology and old. Here
Phone calls and tapes. Here

Help others with their relationships. Share your wisdom, experiences and learnings in the comments.

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