I am the proud grandmother of seven young adults. They range in age from 14 – 24. Obviously they are well beyond the days of cuddling on my lap or arriving at the door with little suitcase in hand ready for a sleepover. As grandchildren grow up, it becomes a challenge as to how to keep connected.
Fascinating information from a new AARP survey reveals that more than 80% of grandparents speak to their grandchildren on the phone at least once a month. More than 1/3 do their communication via new technology – think Skype, Facebook, texting. So I started asking myself if I fit these results. I use Facebook for keeping up day-to-day. I text when I want a quick check-in. Phone calls follow if we need a longer conversation.
And what do we talk about? Again I’m right in tune with the survey results. The AARP survey says 50% talk about morals and values; religion and spirituality; peer pressure or bullying; illegal drugs; and drinking and alcohol use. Dating or sex are topics for 37% of the grandparents. I have to laugh as I often start conversations with some of the grandkids with this question, “And are you making good choices?”
The data about frequency of communication, as well as topics, fits well with grandparents serving a role as mentor and teacher. We have a wonderful chance to help grandchildren by sharing our experiences and knowledge, all wrapped up in a big dose of love. A personal aside – I always end my texts with Love, Gma.
How often do you communicate with your grandkids and what do you talk about?
Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.
Grandparents have always been an important part of children’s lives. In fact, many schools celebrated grandparents day on Sept 9th this year. In celebration of grandparents and in keeping with the theme of school success for our September podcast and blog (www.scienceofparenting.org), here are a few tips on how grandparents can help children this school year.
- Ask. But ask specifically! Rather than ask how school is going, be specific. Ask children what book they are reading, what their favorite part of the school day is, or what they are studying in a particular subject.
- Praise. Not for their accomplishments but for their EFFORT! Praise them for the long hours they put into their studies. For eating that breakfast that helps their brain or simply for sharing their activities with grandpa and grandma!
- Participate. Visit or volunteer for activities or functions. Be a guest speaker. Or even join the class online blogs and discussion boards.
- Read. Share stories both written and verbal with your grandchild. Write them notes, letters or emails.
- Plan. Encourage your grandchildren to think about their future plans and goals. Let your grandkids know you believe in them and the importance of trying their best.
“If you as a grandparent are raising your grandchildren, remember that it is important to know the child’s school and teachers. Get involved in your grandchildren’s homework, make school work a priority and stay in contact with the school.”
How have grandparents impacted your child’s school success?
For more information see the link below on Grandparents and School Success: http://www.extension.org/pages/20318/grandparents-can-contribute-to-childrens-school-success
Check out the recorded Parenting Webinar on Helping Children Succeed in School!
Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.