"Grandchildren are the reason we had kids" is an old catch-phrase. A new grandchild is a delight and a wonder, but they do grow into teens. A lot of things can happen at that point. You might lose touch with them, they might suddenly become rude and disrespectful, you might even wonder what happened to the sweet 10-year-old kid with skinned knees that shared guinea pigs and loved fishing with you. Or, your grandchild might live far away, making communication difficult. But don't lose hope -- you can maintain communication with your teen grandchild that will help build or strengthen the relationship you already have.
Don't Lose the Wonder
A growing teen can be just as much of a delight as the new infant you once held in your arms or the elementary school child that brought to you insects and critters she found in the grass. As a grandparent, you can become a listener as she discovers growing up. You can share her joys and sorrows in ways that her parents might not be able to do. The key is to listen to the things she has to tell you, but not to force a confidence.
Rude, Angry, Misbehaving Teens
Teens sometimes say things that are rude, spiteful and angry that can really hurt. It can be hard to keep your perspective when that happens. Quietly let the teen know that you didn't enjoy the remark or attitude, but don't let it escalate into an emotional outburst. Unless you are your grandchild's caregiver, you can go home. Your sad, disappointed response might be exactly the needed message to an out-of-control youngster.
Parents' Rules and Grandparents' Rules
Support parental rules. Listen sympathetically when your grandchild complains about them, then ask questions about the reasons for those rules. You have perspective that your grandchild's parents don't have: You remember when your child was young, and you remember when you were young. If parents don't have rules in place, and you are asked to be in charge at their house or at yours, instill rules that keep the teen safe and you from becoming frantic with worry. Don't be afraid to tell your teen grandchild no if a requested activity causes concern.
Stay in Touch
Write letters, make phone calls or invest in a computer if that is what it takes to stay in touch with your grandchild. Modern technology has given us the ability to connect across the miles in ways that your grandparents never dreamed possible. Internet telephone programs such as Skype, Ventrilo or Google Hangouts help families with Internet connections share special times across the miles. Social media websites and media sharing programs such as Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox or Photobucket let you share pictures, movies, and sound files with your children and grandchildren. When you share with them, they are more likely to share with you.