This year, to limit the spread of Covid-19, many Americans are making the difficult decision not to celebrate the holidays with extended family. For a lot of people, the decision not to spend Christmas with grandparents is especially difficult. It is painful to think of our elderly parents being alone on Christmas.
We hurt for them and for our children who consider Grammy and Grandad an important part of our family traditions. Even for families who don’t always get together during the holidays, this year might be extra hard knowing the people we love won’t be able to visit friends or attend their usual festivities or worship services.
We have learned to use technology to connect
However, if there’s one positive thing to come from this pandemic, it is that many of us have learned to use technology to connect with family and friends. No doubt a lot of people will be Zooming or FaceTiming with grandparents over the holidays. So why not turn the conversation into an heirloom and give teens a chance to get to know their grandparents better?
By interviewing them about their lives, their values, and their ideas, young people can make their grandparents feel extra special and give them an opportunity to share their stories. By recording the conversation and sharing it, teenagers can give everyone in the family a priceless treasure.
You can automatically record your Zoom calls
Cloud recording is automatically enabled for all Zoom subscribers. Recordings can then be downloaded to a computer and streamed through the browser for the whole family to enjoy. And here’s a helpful video explaining how to record FaceTime calls.
Of course, if mastering the technology is an issue, a video interview isn’t the only option. It’s possible to have these conversations over the phone. Or maybe your teen could write questions in a journal and ask their grandparents to fill it out at their leisure.
Perhaps the dialog could be in the form of letters between your child and a grandparent, with each letter posing a different question. The important thing is for kids and grandparents to communicate and record the results of that communication to keep and to share.
Every family is different, so how the conversation occurs and what the questions kids will want to ask their grandparents will vary.
24 Questions to ask in a grandparent interview
- Tell me a favorite memory about your parents.
- Tell me about your grandparents.
- Tell me about your siblings.
- Who was your best friend when you were a kid?
- What are some of your favorite childhood memories?
- Did you have a nickname as a child?
- What was your childhood home like?
- Who did you admire or look up to when you were growing up?
- Tell me about the town/city you grew up in.
- Did you have any pets as a child?
- How did you spend Christmas as a child?
- What did you do for fun as a kid?
- Did you have a favorite teacher?
- Tell me about a time you got into trouble when you were a kid.
- Did you play any sports or were you in any activities in high school?
- What was your college major?
- What was your first job?
- What jobs have you had?
- How did you meet Grandmother (of Grandad)?
- What did you do on your first date?
- How did you know you wanted to marry Grandmother (or Grandad?)
- How old were you when you got married?
- What types of things did you and Grandmother (Grandad) like to do together before you had kids?
- Tell me about a favorite memory from when you were raising your family.
- What is your all-time favorite movie?
- What is your favorite song?
- What is your favorite book?
- What is one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do?
- What is something that has helped you through difficult times?
- Do you have a favorite quote or scripture passage?
- Tell me something you’ve done that you are really proud of.
- Have you ever done something you didn’t think you could do?
- What do you love best about being a grandparent?
- What advice do you want to give me as I finish high school or college?
Even close-knit families might be surprised to find out the answers to some of these questions or be shocked to realize things they didn’t know or never thought to ask. My own kids love to hear about the time my mother got caught smoking as a kid. And recently, they were shocked to learn that my dad’s degree is in biology, since they’ve only ever known him as a retired business man.
A grandparent interview is more than just learning a few facts
But a grandparent interview is about so much more than just learning a few facts about Grammy and Grandad, although that is a huge perk. It’s also a way for our kids to get to know their grandparents as real people who have led lives full of hopes and accomplishments and interesting stories.
Maybe this type of conversation will even give grandparents a chance to say some things they’ve always meant to or to think about specific advice or wisdom they want to impart.
The truth is, there’s no way to know what to expect when our kids take the time to get to know their grandparents better–and that’s half the fun. But one thing we can be sure of, is that the time they spend together, will be a gift to everyone in the family.
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