Bridging the Generation Gap
The holidays typically include visits with extended family members, which most teens
will tell you they dread.
While you may be looking forward to seeing your siblings, parents or in-laws there is a strong probability your teens are not as excited about the visit.
They would much rather be hanging with friends or playing video games. You know, doing teen things, not hanging out with older people.
If you find this frustrating, think about it from your teen's point of view. They may not feel they have as much in common with your siblings or their grandparents as you do (remember, you are the link between those two generations!)
So how can we make this visit a better experience for both sides of the generation gap?
Take your teen's needs into consideration He may be looking forward to using the time off from school to go to the movies with friends, catch up on sleep, or get a head start on an upcoming project.
Find a balance so it is a win-win Sit down and have a conversation! Ask him what his plans are for the holiday break and negotiate times for family activities as well as his own time with friends. You'll find your teen more agreeable to visiting relatives if his own wishes are also being respected and met.
Offer Conversation Prompts Sometimes tweens and teens just don't know what to talk to their elders about after the usual "How is school going?" conversation ends.
Here are some prompts you can give your teen to use:
How did you learn to ....? (build things, sew, dance, something your parent loves to do)
What was the thing that made you want to ....? (Be a teacher, a fireman, etc)
What was your first job? Did you like it? What job followed that one?
What skill do you wish you had learned as a young person?
Where did you go on vacations as a kid?
How did you meet Grandma?
What was the funniest thing my mom/dad did when she/he was a kid?
Learning goes both ways! I love that my dad, at 87, still wants to learn new things. He loves when one of the grandkids teaches him something new with technology or what they learned in school this semester.
Let them learn together It's good for our kids to learn how Grandpa had to do things before technology or power tools were around! They'll appreciate how easily they can accomplish something when they learn how difficult it was before!
Help them to continue building the bond after the holidays. Look for ways to encourage them to spend time together. Perhaps they'll find a new hobby to do together if they live close by. My kids keep in touch through phone calls because we're 6 hours away from my dad and my mother-in-law. You may have to do the occasional prompting, but encourage your kids to be compassionate and give 5 minutes of their day for a quick call to their grandparents, it will mean so much to your parent as well as build memories for your kids to hold on to when they become adults.
When I was 6 my grandparents, who lived close to us, decided to go back to Croatia. It was really fun to get handwritten letters from Grandma with stories about the "old country" and life there versus here in America. My grandma used to crochet and having pieces from her are extra special now that she's gone. I took up crocheting when I was little and my daughter keeps the tradition going. In fact, we have a wedding apron that Grandma made for my mom's wedding day, which then my sisters and I used at our weddings and next July I'll be passing that on to my daughter at her wedding...4 generations linked together on one very special day. My hope is that your kids will also have memories that tie them to their grandparents as we have in our family.
Teens are busy these days, but I really think it's important for them to still be linked to the older generations. There is so much for each generation to learn from the other and those are bonds that are irreplaceable. I'd love to hear from you about traditions you've passed down through the generations now given to your own kids! Hit reply and share that story with me!
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