Grandparents and Teens: Working Through Family History Together

June 8, 2021

As grandparents, we’re often looking for ways to meaningfully connect with our grandkids. We love them very much, but the life changes they’re going through can sometimes make it hard to find common ground. They are often more tech savvy than we are and more used to communicating with friends over social media and apps. And somehow they’ve forgotten how to talk on the phone? Remember when a toy phone on a string captivated them? Well, times have change and now it’s up to us to figure out ways we can be relevant to our grandkids and guide them into adulthood. 

Many older adults are also looking for a way to ensure that their legacy and family history are passed on to the next generation. Often teen aged grandchildren will be very interested and open to hearing stories of the past. Sometimes it’s to marvel at how little tech was available “back in the day”. However, they also find themselves interested or even fascinated by the different world that their grandparents grew up in. 

Talking to your teen grandchildren about what life was like for you in your teens can be a good way to find common ground. You might not have had fights with your parents over using a smartphone, but there were still arguments about dating, curfew, and what to do after high school. Depending on your age, you may be able to talk to your grandkids about what it was like to live through the civil rights movement, Vietnam War protests, the women’s movement, and the Watergate scandal. Many current events are similar to events and movements of the past. You and your grandkids can talk over these experiences and find common ground and discuss differences as well.

Build Connection and Your Legacy by Recording Family History with Teen Grandkids

As you and your teen grandchildren start building rapport around these shared experiences, you can ask them to use their technical know-how to help you record family history. Now is a great time to go through old photographs and slides (remember those?!) and digitize them. For really delicate photos or lots of slides, consider using a professional service. You (and your grandkids, if they want to help) can gather your old photos, slides, family movies, and any other mementos recorded by older methods and ship them off. The company will digitize them and mail you back the originals and the digital copies. 

Once that grunt work is done, ask your grandkids to help you create digital albums. They can probably show you lots of different ways. Maybe you want to set up a private, family-only Instagram stream or a photo blog. There are lots of other programs that will allow you to store a lot of material and create albums. You and your grandkids can research the best options together. When you’ve settled on the best program, start loading your photos onto it. Be sure to record as much detail about the photo as you can--who is in it, how they’re related to you, and where and when it was taken. 

It’s amazing how much family photos fascinate us, even when we don’t know the people in them. We see features that have been passed down through the generations and particular facial expressions. A grandchild who has an interest in fashion may get a kick out of older styles and hair dos. 

You can also get your grandkids to help you record your stories. You might want to just make a sound recording of you talking about your family and upbringing. It might be more fun and interesting to have your grandkids ask you questions and make a video of your conversation. Then you can all decide how you want to share the interviews with the rest of the family. It might spark more memories and more questions, so you can do follow-up videos. 

We hope these tips help you to connect with your grandkids and also preserve your family history. As always, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter if you found this on social media and get back to living your best life!

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