Maybe world peace is a little out of your reach this year, but
family peace isn’t. Most people think they need to do big
things, but it’s the small things you do on a regular basis
that count most. There are five simple but powerful things you can
do to reduce stress and conflict, and bring generations in your
Building better relationships in families involves all generations—children,
parents, and grandparents. Grandparents can take a leadership role.
Here are the top five tips so that you can get started in your family.
Listen first: One of the biggest problems in family
relationships is rushing in with your own opinions and advice before
you really understand the situation. If you’re a grandparent,
start with the expectation that your children will raise their children
differently than you raised them. To get productive conversations
going, use phrases like “Tell me about it” and “So
you feel like…”
“Once a week” goal: Regular contact
is key to building closer family bonds, especially for grandparents
who may not live near their grandchildren. You need at least one
visit, phone call, e-mail, or postcard a week. Share things that
are happening in your life, and ask lots of questions about things
your grandchildren are interested in.
Second chances: One couple was so upset by their
grandchild’s “disrespectful” behavior that they
didn’t speak to the parents of see the grandchild for a year.
You can always find a reason to justify your anger. Find a bigger
reason to let go of it. Put the relationship first.
Less TV, more books: Start your own family book
club, with parents, grandparents, and children taking monthly turns
choosing books. It’s a great way to build children’s
reading skills, a chance to cuddle close when you’re together,
and something to talk about over the phone. Long distance grandparents
can even audiotape themselves reading stories.
Give and take: Family relationships involve reciprocity,
giving when it’s needed. A grandparent can gracefully agree
to baby-sit in an emergency. Parents can make sure grandparents
get thank you notes for gifts they’ve sent so that they feel
appreciated. Building goodwill helps everyone over the long run
and sets a positive model for children.
Source: “How to Build the Grandma Connection”,
by Susan V. Bosak, MA, winner of a 2000 Parent’s Guide Award. For
more grandparenting information and tips, visit http://www.grandmaconnection.com.