In today’s world of instant gratification, mobile devices that give grandchildren immediate access to the internet, to movies and games, it can be hard to compete. That is, until you remember the golden rule: all that matters, in quality time, is that you and your grandchildren spend some time together.
The plain fact of the matter is that teenagers have always been hard to keep amused. An unwillingness or inability to focus on family activities is part of the basic definition of a teenager.
By the same token, indulging the whims of your grandchildren has always defined the grandparent!
So why not meet your teenage grandchildren on their own ground? I remember my own grandparents indulging me with trips to the cinema or the video store when I was a teenager: which I loved, because I wasn’t allowed to watch films on a school night when I was at home. Now, the video store might have all but vanished from the local high street (indeed the local high street may have all but vanished full stop) – but there are plenty of modern equivalents.
Try LoveFilm or Netflix for access to unlimited DVD rental and immediate online movies. The former delivers both, while the latter is specifically a watch-online service, with a choice of both feature films and popular TV series.
It’s almost inevitable that you’ll have to spend some time plunked down in front of a computer screen if you want to spend time with teenage grandchildren on their own terms. So let them teach you about what they like to do – the sites they like using, the games they like playing. And remember to enjoy your privileged status. There’s no way any self-respecting teenager would let mum or dad take a tour round the web with them – but the indulgent grandparent is another matter entirely…
The key is to take an interest in the things that interest them. You’ll find, for example, if you show real interest in your granddaughter’s favourite obsession – the Twilight books and films, for example, or Harry Potter – that your teenage grandchild is more open to showing an interest in the things you do too. Take her to see the new Twilight movie, talk about it afterwards over a pizza: next thing you know, she’ll be helping you in the garden.
Teenagers aren’t against doing the kinds of things you might want to do with them – outdoor activities; cooking; arts and crafts – they just want to express their individuality. So the trick is to let them come to the kinds of things you’re interested in, on their own terms.
When you do get to choose what you do together for the day, you may find some of the following links helpful:
How to Make the Most of Your Grandparenting, from Helpguide.
The Teen Baker, whose brilliant blog is full of colourful recipes – and enthusiasm!
The Royal Horticultural Society, whose excellent site gives you tons of tips on sharing gardening with younger growers.
Have you got tips of your own for making the most of your time with the grandchildren? Let Ask Granny know what you think, we’d love to hear from you.