Want to get closer to your grandchildren? Try these 5 simple ways. Posted on November 30, 2018December 3, 2018 by Celia Bowring Grandchildren come in all shapes and sizes. And you want to build the closest possible relationship with them. But how? Here are 6 simple ways to bridge the gap without sounding like you know it all or come from planet Zog. Try them. You have nothing to lose. Ask the right questions. We all enjoy talking about ourselves and kids are no exception. But you need to ask questions that go beyond the bland ‘So how’s school?’ to get below the surface.The ‘right questions’ lead to understanding what makes them different and special. And mean they know you’re genuinely interested and care.Do it well and in answer to your questions you’ll discover information about their best friend, their favourite room, their first memory, what frightens them, which children’s tv character they’d like to be, their favourite meal, what makes them happy – and sad, what makes them laugh, what they think they are best at, if they had a shop what they would sell, what’s the best food ever, what superpower they would like, their best joke, and more.Of course, this all involves making time to listen – which is one of the greatest gifts anyone can offer to a person of any age. And such conversations should never be forced or rushed. The child chooses whether to tell you stuff and it may take patience to wait for that privilege. Listen in depth. Don’t fall into the trap of asking questions and then not truly listening to the answers. That’s the listening equivalent of turning several pages over at once when reading to them!Grandchildren will know you are listening if you repeat back what you have heard them say and then dig a little deeper. Sometimes the very best next question is ‘why’ because it can take the conversation to a deeper level. And be prepared to listen to a lot of chatter that may bore you but enthrals them! Tell them your story. Getting closer is a two way process. So offer them the opportunity to ask their questions about you. And take the opportunity to delight them by telling then your own story.They’d love to know your own answers to the questions that you asked them; especially tales from your childhood and teenage years. Better still, dig out some very old photographs to bring it all to life. The role of grandparents is not the same as for parents. That gives us extra leeway to be understanding of their faults and mistakes – though not in a way that undermines the discipline and standards of their parents.What you may be able to contribute from time to time is a story of something from your past that relates to the child’s experience. These times might offer opportunities to talk about the virtues of courage, honesty, forgiveness, creative problem-solving, kindness and hard work. Believe in them. Praise and encouragement are priceless gifts to any child. It’s good to be positive about what they achieve – but even more so if that reinforces qualities you admire about them.Keep your eyes open for the positive things they do, asking God to make you aware. And then, over time, you can sow seeds and nurture the precious potential that lies within them. Be sure to express this genuine appreciation wherever you can. It will help to build the confidence that is supremely important for children, especially those who lack a strong sense of self-worth or have particular difficulties or disabilities. Hang on in there. Life has its ups and downs and grandchildren will have their own experiences of that – as will you most probably will in your relationship with them. There may be times when it’s not possible to see each other so often, situations they get into that make you feel anxious, disappointed, let down.But whether all is going swimmingly well or there are tensions don’t give up on your responsibility to be an example of faithful unconditional love – whatever that looks like for each child at every stage of their lives. And, of course, above all else, pray for them. For more practical insight on being a grandparent, see the AfterWorkNet webpages at Grand parenting. What questions have you asked your grandchildren that have opened your eyes and deepened your relationships? Please share them here. Celia Bowring Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother! Have you joined our Facebook group yet? It’s a great way to share the journey with other after-workers.