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Grandparents: Where Are You Going Next?

by | Nov 25, 2019

Recently, my high school class held its 50th reunion. We, the organizing committee, started preparing nearly nine months ago. We had some great times over those nine months reminiscing about the past and sharing what’s happened since then. Somewhere along the way, however, the discussion shifted from focusing on who we were back then, to where we went in our lives, to where we are going next.

We figured since this conversational path intrigued us so much, it would probably excite attendees, too. It led us, as a committee, to put up a dedicated wall space at the reunion, which we called “the timeline.” It was an opportunity for classmates to write a brief favorite life story about who they were, where they had been, AND declare where they wanted to go next.

In looking at what everyone wrote for where they wanted to go, there were three key themes:
“I want to travel, learn, and grow,” “I want to become more involved in my community,” and, the one that stood out to me especially, “I want to be with my family and grandchildren more.”

Keeping up with the grandkids

One of the major concerns expressed that evening was how to get around technology and have more conversations with grandchildren. We often hear from grandparents that technology has moved beyond their capabilities, and it’s hard to spend time with grandchildren because so many just want to play video games and go into their virtual world.

While that may be true, your grandkids don’t need you to jump on a video game with them. They need you to engage with them in a meaningful, real-life way.

“But how do I do that?” you ask.

Perhaps your time together is motivated by a common enthusiasm, such as going to baseball games or theatre together. Don’t think you have anything in common? Try something new together! As long as you are willing to invest the time in one another, you have the opportunity to share your decades of experience and wisdom that your own children and certainly your grandchildren don’t have.

While no one likes to be lectured at, talking about your values, stories, and experiences while you are out together is an invaluable part of building your family legacy.

Yes! Your grandchildren are your legacy too!

Your grandchildren are part you and part the world around them. Bridge the digital divide by being a good storyteller and asking questions. Share with them what your life has been like—especially the snippets that are radically different than your grandchild might ever know. What were your chores as a kid? Did you share a bed with a sibling (or two) because there wasn’t enough room for everyone? Did you ride a horse to school every day? Did you work at the corner store from the age of seven? What did it teach you then? Or didn’t you know any different?

And don’t forget to ASK them questions! You got to school on a horse, but your grandchild’s friend has a Tesla with winged doors. What’s that like? (It’s actually extremely slow!)

Start here:

As grandparents, we can and we must step forward with what our past is about and why it matters that our children and grandchildren know about it. So, how do grandparents get around technology and grab the attention of their grandchildren? One of the most valuable ways is to be a good storyteller.

Think about some events in your life that have always stood out in your mind. Then, write down a few notes about one event that deeply affected you, made you laugh, or feel good and why. Pick something to do together in which your story might easily come up. You’ll be surprised how closely a child will listen if you are very honest and open.

Retirement isn’t about dropping out. It’s a time to live, continue to grow, and give back. What better place to give than your grandchildren.

You can do more!  

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Elane V. Scott

Elane is the co-founder of Raising Families. Her unique expertise in fields from marketing and media to community development and parent coaching is how she guides parents and grandparents to become more joyful and intentional family leaders. In her “free time” Elane enjoys reading metaphysical texts, talking to strangers on airplanes (pre-covid), and lovingly convincing her grandchildren they're meant for Olympic stardom. Read full bio >>