Grandparents and Teens

Yesterday, I was privileged to be a guest on the radio show Chat with Women.  During our discussion, the hosts asked me “What can grandparents do to help their teen granddaughters while they are going through tough times?”  This was a fantastic question.

The beauty of being a grandparent is that you don’t have to bother with discipline, academics, attire, or dating.  Grandparents can provide unconditional love without having to worry about all the rest of the stuff!  When hanging with grandparents, teens don’t worry about being cool, asserting their independence, or defending their choices.  Wouldn’t we all love to have safe space like this in life?!?

Because teens can let down their guard when they are with their grandparents, they will often listen to grandmotherly advice.  Sharing stories of your youth can remind your granddaughter that young girls have gone through the same doubts and struggles for many years.  Make sure you share stories and thoughts, though, rather than preach at them.  Talk about boys and dating.  Talk about struggles you had with your parents or as a parent.  Then you can top it off with, “Is it still like that now?”

What you should avoid as a grandparent is being part of a family argument.  If your granddaughter is having a fight with her Mom or Dad, let her vent.  You can give some advice, but don’t talk badly about the parents.  This would likely not end well and would only make the fight worse. 

Bottom line?  Be there for your grandkids.  Spend time with them.  Nurture them.  Hug them.  Praise them.  And admire them.  My grandmother never raised her voice to me, rarely lectured me, but always gave me hugs and Pringles.  My Grannie made a huge impact on my life and my character.  So hug or text or call your grandchild today!   (If you are a teen, reach out to your grandparents for some unconditional love.)

With Heart,  Sheri

Fostering Gratefulness in Teens

When kids are young, it is fairly easy promote an attitude of gratitude. We make sure they say “thank you” when we give them things or do things for them, we have them say what they are thankful for at the dinner table, and we can make them write thank you notes. When it comes to teens, though, promoting gratitude is a much trickier process. For teens who are trying to create their own unique identity, being grateful can be equated to being indebted. So how do we go about fostering gratitude in our teens? gratefulHere are a few pointers:

(1) Continue making them write thank you notes. Writing down gratitude is much more passive on the teens end but very appreciated by the receiver.

(2) Casually remind them of favors. If your teen receives something from another teen or a parent, like a ride for instance, non-chalantly say “That was very nice of them to give you a ride.” This reminds them that they were not entitled to the ride but that it was a favor.

(3) Expose them to the less fortunate. Now that they are teens, they are much more able to process sad and difficult situations. Now is the time to start exposing your teens to unfortunate situations. When a bad storm occurs, for instance, have them watch the news coverage with you. Talk about 3rd world countries where children starve on a daily basis. Do an internet search with them about homeless teens and families. Don’t say to them, “Look what these kids go through, you should be thankful for what you have.” They will come to this conclusion on their own. Let them absorb the information, talk to them about the issues, and let them form their own gratitude.

(4) Don’t panic. Keep in mind that what your teen shows you is typically not what your teen shows the rest of the world. Your kids will inevitably keep the emotional outbursts and snarky comments all for you. In an odd way, you should be happy because this means that your teen feels emotionally safe with you.

(5) Be persistent. As a parent, you do want your teen to be appreciative of all that you do. Demand respect and demand a “thank you” for the big things. And on the other side, make sure that you say “thank you” to your teens for the things they do for you even if it is an expected household chore.

And for the teens who read my blog, find things in your everyday life that you are thankful for.  A great quote to learn from:  “Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.”  -Gertrude Stein

Thanks for Reading my Blog!

Sheri Gazitt, Teen Life Coach