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How to Build Strong Relationships with Grandchildren

Learn how to build strong relationships with your grandchildren. Seniorly guest blogger Teresa Kindred offers tips on bonding with your grandkids.

By Seniorly Editor · Updated Feb 10, 2022
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Tips for Growing Close Bonds

Whether you live next door to your grandchildren or are on the other side of the country, most grandparents would agree that having a close relationship with their grandchildren is important. But how do you create a strong bond that will last as the years roll by and as children gain more and more distractions? 

Here are some suggestions that may help you build strong relationships with grandchildren now, so that you can be a source of love and comfort for each other for many years to come.

Be their cheerleader

From the moment a child is born they are consistently learning and trying new things. Grandparents can be a child’s biggest fan because we don’t have to be the chief disciplinarian. That doesn’t mean we don’t correct them if we are babysitting or they are in our care, but usually it’s mom and dad’s job to instruct them on how to behave. Years ago, I remember watching a friend’s mother cheer her granddaughter on as the young girl participated in a track and field event. Her excitement and enthusiasm were obvious and her granddaughter knew she was there cheering her on. Grandparents can be the wind beneath their grandchildren’s wings.

Spend time with them

My grandmother was not rich and could not give me expensive gifts but she gave me her time, which was invaluable. She read books and played board games with me. We used to sit on her front porch swing and pick out shapes in the clouds and guess which color car was going to pass by next. When I think back to how much time she spent with me I am amazed. And if you ask her other grandchildren, they will tell you she did the same for them as well. How did she manage to make each and everyone of us feel so cherished and special? She simply gave us what she had to give, her time and attention.

How to Build Strong Relationships with Grandchildren
Martha Temple Todd left her 8 grandchildren a legacy of love that will always be in their hearts. Martha was my cousin and best friend and I miss her every day.

Listen to them

There is an art to listening. Most people don’t know how to really, truly listen. They are listening to respond, rather than listening to understand. Someone once told me that instead of advice or criticism it’s better to open your arms and shut your mouth. When your grandchild talks to you do your best to be a good listener. Allow them time to talk and then pay attention to their body language. If they are sad or scared, offer them hugs or hold them if they enjoy contact. One of my nephews simply never liked cuddling, so I always respected that. Make eye contact with them when possible and always think about your answer before you blurt it out. What you say and how well you listen matters much more than you might think. My grandmother's words of advice and wisdom have remained in my heart long after she left this Earth. Your words will live on in your grandchildren as well.

Remember what it’s like to be young

When you were little what did you enjoy doing? What were your favorite foods? What was important to you? My grandmother played games because I liked to play them, not because she did. She cooked fried chicken, mashed potatoes and biscuits because my brother and I loved that meal. We each had special plates we liked to eat on and she served us on those plates. She always put our preferences first and we loved going to her house and being with her. This might mean learning new games, technology, or about subjects that your grandchild loves, but it’s worth the effort.

How to Build Strong Relationships with Grandchildren
Teaching them to cook is not only fun but educational and a great way to spend time together!

 

Don’t play favorites

If my grandmother had a favorite I couldn’t tell you who it was and that’s the way it should be. I have a friend who has several grandchildren but it’s very obvious who her favorite is and I know her other grandchildren are aware. Being a grandparent is a privilege and playing favorites harms relationships between cousins and siblings. That doesn’t mean you may not have more in common with one than the other, but showing favoritism will damage your relationship with grandchildren faster than almost anything else.

When you can’t be there, call

There are times when we simply can’t be there in person, but we can call or FaceTime. Even if your grandchildren act like they don’t care, more than likely they are just distracted or not sure what to talk about with you. Every big event in their life should be attended by the people who love them most, their parents and grandparents, but if you can’t be there at least take the time to call to ask about it or congratulate them. Building a strong relationship with grandchildren means showing up in whatever way you can.

Be the grandparent you want them to be one day

We all learn by example. If a child has uninvolved grandparents then there is a good chance they will be the same way. If you want to make an impression on your grandchildren (whether you live near or far) then live a good life they will be proud of. My grandmother was one of the best people I have ever known and her influence on my life and my cousins has been profound. 

Alex Haley said, “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” 

Be the stardust in your grandchildren's lives. They will appreciate it and remember it forever. 

About Teresa Kindred

How to Build Strong Relationships with Grandchildren

Teresa’s blog, NanaHood.com, has been chosen as one of the Top Ten Grandparent Blogs for the last 5 years by GRAND magazine. She has written several books which can be found at her Amazon shop. Teresa lives in Kentucky with her husband, Bill, where they own and operate Bellview Blueberry Farm. They have 5 children and 6 grandchildren.

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