Jerry Witkovsky used to ask his grandchildren how school was going. “I’d get the usual “fine” or “crummy” or sometimes a grunt,” says the Chicago native. “Then one day, my granddaughter said, ‘Grampa, you know, I am more than just a student.’ I realized, I didn’t really know my grandchild’s world. Her school, her friends, her music.”
So Witkovsky set out to change that. Not only did he find ways to really connect with his own six grandchildren, he’s helped hundreds of other grandparents do the same through annual workshops at a growing roster of Chicago-area high schools. Witkovsky’s now sharing what he learned in a new book, The Grandest Love: Inspiring the Grandparent-Grandchild Connection.
Your Teen caught up with Witkovsky, who is 86, to find out more about how grandparents can connect with teenage grandchildren.
1. Embrace technology. Teenagers don’t talk on the phone anymore. They text. So, says Witkovsky, go out and buy a smartphone and learn how to use it. Ask your grandchildren to show you. The goal: “To text your grandchild a short, loving message each day.”
2. Tune in. Again, technology can be your friend here, advises Witkovsky. “Check out the website of your grandchild’s school, where you’ll find information on events and even their classes. Read what your grandchildren are reading. Ask your son or daughter to send you the activity calendar of your grandchild’s events.” Once you’re in the loop with your grandchild’s world, you’ll see communication become more more meaningful and authentic, says Witkovsky.
3. Show up. Enter your grandchild’s world, whether it’s attending games or other school events or just a regular lunch date. “Have good times together,” says the author.