Courtesy of Damien Hernandez. Photo of Sydney Hernandez (left) and Ryen Hernandez (right) with their grandmother, Irene Hernandez (center).
Courtesy of Damien Hernandez. Photo of Sydney Hernandez (left) and Ryen Hernandez (right) with their grandmother, Irene Hernandez (center).

How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Your Grandparents

April 3, 2017

A young child is walking in a field of buttercups. Walking next to the child is their grandparent, laughing along with him/her. Cut to another scene where a teenager is sitting on a couch, playing on their smartphone. Their grandparent is giving them the typical “back in my day” lecture. Which one of these scenes do you picture as your relationship with your grandparents? The Matador Messenger brings you the third article in the “How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship” series with senior citizens.

According to a Survey Monkey of 100 BYMS teenage participants, an encounter with a senior citizen is common as 35% of students indicated that they hardly encounter a senior citizen, 33% 3 days or less and 32% encounter senior citizens 4 times or more a week.

Out of the 100 BYMS students who took the survey, most participants indicated their relationship with senior citizens is strong; 31% recorded their relationship with senior citizens as moderate, 62% as strong.

Although participants indicated they often have a strong relationship with senior citizens, several also asked the questions “How do you maintain a healthy relationship with a senior citizen?” and “What is the best way to solve a conflict with senior citizens?”

“The best way to solve this conflict is to be willing and appreciate from one another!”

“Many times, when a teen has conflicts with an older adult, it stems from the fact that often, teens cannot relate to the life experiences that an older adult has had to endure or live through. It is a conflict between old school vs. new school,” explained Cesar Delgado, Senior Housing expert and Senior Case Manager, in an interview with the Matador Messenger“The best way to solve this conflict is to be willing and appreciate from one another!” according to Cesar Delgado.

The most common reasons teens have conflict with senior citizens are 23% miscommunication, 26% generation differences,12% not being respectful, 39% technology, and 22% have conflicts with the experience level of each other.

“For any teen that would like to improve on their relationship with an older adult, I would recommend remembering we have two ears and one tongue, which helps remind me to listen more and talk less. When communicating with an older adult, lean in to the conversation, this shows your adult friend that you are interested in what he/she has to say and that you genuinely care,” Delgado explained.

Despite having several conflicts with senior citizens, the survey participants marked ways to resolve their conflicts; 77% communication, 43% offer help, 18% don’t try to solve conflicts, and 9% solve conflicts another way.

“Like in any healthy relationship, effective communication is key. Often, when there is conflict between a teen and an older adult (or senior), it can be attributed to a message that was poorly delivered/a message that was misunderstood,” according to Cesar Delgado.

“It is imperative that when a teen communicates with an older adult, eye contact is vital. Not making eye contact, is a sign of disrespect, especially to older adults. It is as if one is saying ‘I’m not interested in what you have to say or I don’t care about you,’” Delgado continued.

An anonymous participate, when given the chance to ask one question to an expert regarding senior citizens, asked “What type of relationship would I need to have with a senior citizen or grandparent?”

“The ideal relationship between a grandchild and grandparent consist of a daily dose of love, a spoonful of advice and a pint of correction! I recommend all grandchildren that are blessed to have a grandparent nearby, to spend an hour a week listening to their grandparent’s advice and to learn from their life experiences,” Delgado explained.

“As a Social Worker, who has served older adults for more than 25yrs, my most valuable lessons and life’s richest rewards have come from my years of working with and serving older adults. For example, I owe my improved and better listening skills to Mr. Sperry, who taught me to ‘practice listening’ by just going for walks, with him,” according to Cesar Delgado.

“Relationships with older adults can be incredibly enriching and rewarding. Older adults have so much wisdom and life experiences to share,” according to Cesar Delgado.