Your parents are an important part of your life, and thus, an important part of your children’s’ life. Helping the two connect and eliminating the generation gap is a critical role you play because you, as a parent, are what the two generations have in common.
There are some guidelines you should follow when encouraging a relationship and bringing your kids and your parents together, both for their sake, and yours.
Make communication easier.
Set up communication channels between your kids and their grandparents, and help them talk with each other across the generational gap.
Set up a regular call and if you need to, push them to talk to each other. Your kids might resist it at first, but they’ll be glad they know how to talk to their grandparents when they want to.
If your parents are resident in a care environment, help your children get comfortable with the idea of retirement homes so they can avoid discomfort, awkwardness, or fear when they visit.
Be open and frank with your answers to their difficult questions.
Plan sharing activities.
Your parents and children will have very different childhoods, and it can be tricky to find common ground across the age gap.
Setting up activities that highlight common ground will help a relationship grow naturally.
Pick a few old family photos of your parents and make it a project to recreate the picture with your kids as accurately as possible. The grandparents can tell the story behind the photo, and the kids can feel connected to a different generation in a very real way.
Foster long term interests such as family history that can interest and encourage conversation and learning between the generations. There’s nothing more exciting for kids than to go through old family photographs and learn about their ancestors.
A great way of opening the lines of communication between the generations is for the youngsters to ‘interview’ the elders to get information for learning about their family history.
Perhaps they could work together to start documenting the family tree.
Start family traditions.
If your whole family doesn’t live close together, it can be tricky to feel like there’s a routine because you only see each other for major holidays.
Establishing family traditions is important because it creates a well worn path for interaction. Traditions are an easy excuse for everyone to feel included, and can be built to suit your family particularly.
Perhaps you could video call the grandparents and cook waffles on opposite sides of the country together for your kids’ birthdays.
Or, maybe on the first day of each month, kids and grandparents challenge each other to do something that challenges them so they can support each other through it, then talk it over the next month.
Whatever fits your unique family is the right option.
Learn life lessons.
Having someone much older or much younger in your life can be difficult.
Bringing the older and younger generations together, however, will help your kids will learn about your and their grandparents’ life before they were born, how to be compassionate with older people, and eventually, how to cope with loss.
Your parents will learn about boundaries with you as an adult, and about coping with aging.
Teaching your kids about what it means that their grandparents are getting older is difficult, especially for you watching your parents go through it and having to be strong for your kids, but it’s all a part of the process of growing up.
Your kids and parents have a lot to teach each other, and to teach you.
Facilitating their relationship is a lifelong obligation and it’s both difficult and rewarding. It is scary, humbling, and just plain hard sometimes, but sharing the people you’re raising with the people who raised you is how your family’s many generations come full circle.