At what age do grandchildren lose interest in grandparents? Or do they? This is a question that many grandparents have asked themselves. Grandparents often enjoy a close relationship with their grandchildren, but what do you do when your grandkids begin to grow up and seem to begin to outgrow you? Or at least the things that you used to do together?
As grandparents, we often cherish the time we get to spend with our grandchildren. Now suddenly, it feels like your grandchildren lose interest in all those things you used to love doing together. If this sounds like your family, don’t worry. You’re not alone.
Let’s talk about what those precious teenagers are going through. First off, it’s not unusual for teens to want to spend more time with their friends than with family. Also, as their world expands, they may begin feeling like they don’t have as much in common with you. . .or any adult for that matter. Last but certainly not least, teenagers are often known for being moody and rebellious. After all, they’re in the process of discovering their independence.
But all of this doesn’t mean that you must simply stand by and watch them grow away from you. There are plenty of things you can do to stay close to your grandchildren and help guide them through these challenging years.
Here are some tips to help keep that relationship strong:
Do the Small Things
I talk a lot about big activities and “grand” gestures. But remember that the small things can, and do, add up to keep your grandchildren from losing interest in your relationship.
Share in One of Their Interests
Be Present in Their Life
Try picking up your grandchild after school sometime. Take them to get ice cream or some other treat. Sit and talk to them. Ask about their day. Remember to let it be about them.
Make Your Home a Safe Space
Give them a safe place to connect with you. These teen years can be a bit rough and your grandchildren will likely have a time when they will need your advice or just to talk to someone who isn’t their parent. Give them the space to do that. . .and maybe get away from their parents from just a bit.
Funny Story: My nearly 16-year-old grandson came to my house the other day – unexpected and unannounced. I let him know that he was welcome, but I was curious about why he had come over. He said that he just wanted to sit and “hang out” over at my house. I accepted his explanation, but as the day went on, he opened up a bit more about being frustrated with his parents and he wanted to get away from them. So, I said, “Oh, I see. This is the teenage version of “I’m running away to grandma’s house.” We both laughed.
So, he spent the day “hanging out” at my home. Sometimes we talked, and sometimes I just let him have his space to think. It was a great day, and he was ready to go back home by evening.
Send Text Messages
Yes, you can send text messages to your teenage grandchildren if they have a device where they can receive text messages. A few rules about this:
- Don’t send too many.
- Don’t make it weird. Just send something that feels like natural conversation.
- Unless you’ve already established that talking about their love life is okay, don’t ask over a text message. It will feel creepy to them.
Make Special Occasions Special
Take an interest in some special occasion that is important to them. Things like dances, advancements, getting a driver’s license, etc. are a BIG deal to a teenager. Often, they are experiencing these things for the very first time. Remember that if you take an interest in them, chances are that you won’t have your grandchildren lose interest in you.
Don’t Take “No” for an Answer
Express to your grandchild just how important it is that you get to spend at least a little bit of time together. So, press them a bit until you can find a time to do something together. If needed, enlist the help of their parents to try to get them to encourage that time together with you.
Do Dinner Together
Find out if there’s a night that you could come over and help with dinner and then eat with the family. Talk to the parents to coordinate this.
Don’t Try to Be Their Best Friend
Remember that your grandchildren need safe adults in their life to help them work through their roles in becoming adults themselves. Yes, be a friend, but don’t waste time trying to be their best friend.
Meet Them Where They Are
Knowing how to handle each child is important since they’re not all the same. It’s important for them to know that you “get them.” Don’t compare them to their siblings, cousins, or their parents.
Make memories With Them
. . .and don’t sweat the details. You don’t have to go out of your way to make a memory with them. Even if things don’t go exactly as planned, being with you is the only important element. Trust me, things rarely go exactly as planned. . .at least in my life.
Send or deliver something fun to your grandchild at school or at work. Deliver a batch of cookies for them to share with their friends or co-workers. Send a surprise “Just Because” box to your long-distance grands. Show up for something they didn’t expect you to attend because they thought it wasn’t a big deal. Get creative, but remember not to embarrass them.
Ask Them For Help With Something
For a lot of us, technology is usually the one place our grandchildren can run circles around us. So, don’t hesitate to ask them to show off their knowledge and teach you a thing or two. Remember, the goal here is to prevent your grandchildren from losing interest in you.
Don’t Expect the Same Kind of Relationship That You Had With Them as Small Children
Just like with your own children, relationships change with time and as people grow up. Change and grow with the maturing relationship between you and your grandchild.
Teen Life is Busy
Don’t worry! This is a busy and hectic time in their life. As they become teens and adults, you will be part of their life if you have made the investment of time all the years leading up to that point.
One last piece of advice: Don’t pin all your social and emotional needs on your family. Make sure that you have friends and hobbies of your own. Fill your own bucket with some diversity of interests for yourself.
If you put forth the effort during their younger years to build relationships with your grandchildren, chances are that you won’t have your grandchildren lose interest in you. Be with your grandchildren in big and small ways. Remember that they are busy, and their world is expanding into more than just family. Be there for them. Take an interest in their life. Let it be about them. If you do, likely your relationship will change and grow. Then, you can bond as adults, and they will love you just as much as they did when they were little.