This can create some unfortunate gaps in the experiences of children growing up in those families.Teenagers and grandparents actually have wonderful bonds if they have the opportunity to spend time together. Teenagers truly enjoy stories about the mis-steps of their own parents, and grandparents are usually quite willing to oblige! In addition to such tales being entertaining, teenagers learn that their own parents may not have been flawless when they were teens. This is a comforting idea when the teenager sees only a competent adult when he looks at mom or dad.
It’s good for teenagers to be able to infer that they, too, will grow up to be successful adults as did their parents. The relationships between grandparents and teenagers provide additional benefits as well. Teenagers are generally pretty self-absorbed creatures. They may not have a good sense of family, tradition, and the fact that there were people before them dealing with similar challenges. In many cases, they are quite surprised to hear that challenges that faced their grandparents were in some ways similar to their own struggles. Additionally, teenagers who really get to know their grandparents have a sense of history and family that helps them feel they belong and are part of something bigger than themselves, their friends, and their local hangouts. The relationship between teenagers and grandparents has still more benefits.
Grandparents usually are not filling the primary parenting role in the lives of their grandchildren. This unique relationship has some significant advantages. Grandparents are not the constant voice in the ear of the teenager to do homework, sit up straight, dress appropriately, be home on time, or do chores. Instead, they have the opportunity to communicate with their grandchildren on a different channel, if you will. For this reason, they may be more likely to be heard and listened to.
What if you and your extended family live hundreds or even thousands of miles from one another? It’s more difficult, but certainly worth making the effort to communicate and visit regularly. Long-distance telephone calls used to be special events, but are so much more inexpensive now that weekly calls between grandparents and teenagers could easily be the norm. More and more members of every generation are online today than ever before. Email, while not ideal, is yet another way to maintain contact.
Finally, the next time you are on line, search the travel web sites. Sign up for notification of special sales and airline deals which will put teenagers and grandparents in face to face contact as often as you can afford it. After all, the benefits of fostering these relationships are worth far more than the cost of a plane ticket.