The teens of summer
By Susan Adcox
Grandparents everywhere look forward to summer because it means that they’ll have more time with the grandchildren. Unless their grandchildren are teenagers.
During summer months, teenagers morph into semi-vampires who seldom show their faces before noon and seem to spend all of their time attached to some piece of technology.
Sometimes they go away to jobs, summer school or summer camp. But when they get home, it’s back to the sleep-till-noon routine.
It’s enough to make a grandparent wish for September.
Surprise, you matter!
You might not guess it by their behavior, but surveys show that grandparents are important to teenagers than you might think. Many mention a grandparent when asked which family members they are close to. That’s why it’s important that grandparents put in extra effort to maintain relationships with teen grandchildren. Here are a few how-to tips.
• First, don’t be judgmental. Most teenagers hate that. Don’t criticize their friends, their peers, their generation. Instead look for things to praise. And don’t label others. One of the admirable things about teens is their acceptance of diversity, and most of them hate it when adults resort to stereotyping and compartmentalizing.
• Second, don’t pick on their use of technology. You’re never going to get that particular genie back into the bottle. Complaints about how much time they spend with electronics will just create ill will. Instead, enlist them to teach you a tech skill that you really need. Ask them to recommend an app or help you organize your digital music. You’ll turn what could be a negative into a positive.
• Third, talk to them about things that matter. In my experience, teenagers are hungry for discussion about real topics. Most of them are interested in current events and politics. They want to talk philosophy and the meaning of life. Who better to tackle these topics than a grandparent?
As you build stronger bonds with your teen, you may have to bite your tongue occasionally. You may have to get out of your comfort zone. You may even have to stay up past your bedtime! But being close to teen grandchildren is so worth it. And that’s true in the fall, winter, spring – and even in the summer.
Check out these links for more tips!
What Not to Say to Teen Grandchildren http://grandparents.about.com/od/grandparentingissues/a/What-Not-To-Say-Teenage-Grandchild-Edition.htm
Use Technology to Connect With Tweens and Teens http://grandparents.about.com/od/growingintoyournewrole/a/TechGrands.htm
The Importance of Grandparents to Young Adult Grandchildren
About the Author – Susan Adcox
Susan Adcox is the Grandparents Expert on About.com and the author of Stories From My Grandparent: A Heirloom Journal for Your Grandchild. A former teacher, she has seven grandchildren.