Grandparents as parents have a problem communicating with their grand- children due to a difference in age and times. We feel like they’re not listening to us; they feel like we’re not listening to them. Good listening and communications skills are essential to successfully be grandparents as parents. Your grandchild’s feelings, views and opinions have worth, and you should make sure you take the time to sit down and listen openly and discuss them honestly.
It seems to be a natural tendency to react rather than to respond. We pass judgment based on our own feelings and experiences. However, responding means being receptive to our grandchild’s feelings and emotions and allowing them to express themselves openly and honestly without fear of repercussion from us. By reacting, we send our grandchild the message that their feelings and opinions are invalid. But by responding and asking questions about why the child feels that way, it opens a dialog that allows them to discuss their feelings further, and allows you a better understanding of where they’re coming from. Responding also gives you an opportunity to work out a solution or a plan of action with your grandchild that perhaps they would not have come up with on their own. Your grandchild will also appreciate the fact that maybe you do indeed understand how they feel.
It’s crucial in these situations to give your grandchild your full and undivided attention. Put down your newspaper, stop doing dishes, or turn off the television so you can hear the full situation and make eye contact with your grandchild. Keep calm, be inquisitive, and offer potential solutions to the problem.
Don’t discourage your grandchild from feeling upset, angry, or frustrated. Our initial instinct may be to say or do something to steer our grandchild away from it, but this can be a detrimental tactic. Again, listen to your grandchild, ask questions to find out why they are feeling that way, and then offer potential solutions to alleviate the bad feeling.
Just as we do, our grandchildren have feelings and experience difficult situations. By actively listening and participating with our grandchild as they talk about it, it demonstrates to them that we do care, we want to help and we have similar experiences of our own that they can draw from. Remember, respond – don’t react.