Grandparenting: Having a fun time with early-teen grandchildren ages 12-15 often involves letting them make the decisions. Things to do for grandkids whether they are in town or out-of-town. Visits offer lifetime bonding opportunities.
Be prepared. The teen-age years are stormy so rough waters are ahead. You can either be a port in the storm or part of the storm. Much better to be a port and offer your early-teen grandchild your unconditional love–as well as continued fun at the grandparents’ abode.
If the young teen has an interest in being outdoors, and many do, you can plan longer hikes or camping trips in the mountains and on the coast together. A child who likes to fish would love a deep-sea fishing excursion. Canoeing, rock climbing, or other active outdoor activities are great for the right child.
If your grandchild has led a casual life at home, expose him/her to fine dining. The manners and social skills he/she picks up here will add confidence to life now and at a later date.
Although you can suggest things to your grandchild, you will be following his/her interests. You can continue to expose this your teen-ager to culture, sports, outdoors, etc., but only if you have a willing companion.
Start by asking your grandchild what he/she would like to do. Be prepared for suggestions and where they can be implemented. Also, be prepared for some suggestions of your own if you meet with a blank stare when you ask, “What do you want to do?”
You can compromise with a child this age. Offer to share an interest with him/her, as long as he/she will participate in your interest, too.
Prior planning is good at this age. For example, if you are attending the theater, have your grandchild read a synopsis of the play in advance. Talk about the actors, too.
If teenagers are pleasantly surprised to find out they do enjoy classical music, art, or the theater, refrain from saying, “I told you so.”
If sports are popular and you live in an area where it is possible, attend an event together.
Cooking, crafts, and art are still fun for some early teens. Keep those art supplies on hand–charcoal, drawing pad, even paints and an easel.
It’s still a good idea to bring some school lessons to life by visiting historical places or museums. Just know that some children will not be interested at all!
Some children this age would still like to hear about their roots, especially the experiences you had when you were their age that correspond to the ones they are having. Some old pictures of boyfriends or girlfriends will usually be a hit!
Again, friends are very important to a young teen. Don’t feel hurt if the child wants to take along a friend.
Be prepared for sulks, sleeping late, and what you might consider inappropriate behavior with the opposite sex. Many young teens are sexually active.
You might find your grandchildren smoking or sampling your Scotch. They might even be smoking pot rather than tobacco. If you are prepared for these occurrences before they happen, then you might not be totally shocked. In fact, think about how you will react before it happens, and you might be able to offer help rather than censure in many situations.
Reading teen magazines, watching a few popular TV shows, looking through some fashion mags, male and female, will help you know what to expect. It will also make you seem a little younger.
Be prepared for a teenager and his/her parents to be in dispute. Your grandchild may want to discuss this. Listen and empathize, but don’t take sides with the child or the parents.
Most of all, offer your unconditional love. This was easier to do when the child was younger, more obedient, and less his/her own person. However, it is equally as important, if not more important, as your grandchild enters his/her teen years.