Connecting with parents, grandparents, aunties or uncles can help us feel a sense of belonging. Research has shown that young people with a strong emotional bond to a grandparent have less chance of being depressed – and vice versa!
But communicating with people way older or way younger than us can be tricky. When we come from different age generations, we’ve had different life experiences and may not understand each other’s points of view. We might feel we don’t have the right words to talk to each other.
Watch our short video of Kata and her Tokelauan grandparents and how they navigate intergenerational communication over a cup of koko.
Tips for connecting with your parents and grandparents
Good intergenerational communication goes both ways – we need to take the time to understand where each other are coming from. Let’s try to meet each other half way!
- Grandparents and parents love seeing things created by their family. If you have artwork, songs, a vege or flower garden, woodwork, a dance routine, or even food, you should show it to them. It’s a great way to start a conversation.
- Invite your parents and grandparents to your activities. This could be sport, a cultural group performance, or even just a school or university event that is open to the public.
- Have you ever wondered where your parents’ names came from? Try asking your grandparents how and why they chose your parents’ names. Or ask your parents how they came up with your name if you don’t know already.
- For older grandchildren, asking how your grandparents met each other can be a fun conversation.
- Have you got any awesome photos on your phone from fun things you got up to? Our phones are now like ‘photo albums’ which families used to sit together and go through. You can go through photos on your phone and reminisce with your parent or grandparents.
- Understanding your culture is also important. Have you ever asked your grandparents or parents to teach you about where they are from? They can be an awesome source of knowledge about you!
Finding innovative ways to connect with our elders is a great way to increase our knowledge about our culture. Take a moment to watch the Elephane video that explores the use of digital technology to connect the generations.
Take a breath
Communicating with our parents or children can be a daunting task and we can sometimes lose our cool and go off. It’s important, though, to acknowledge where the other person is coming from.
When we’re anxious or stressed, our breathing tends to get shallow and fast. To relax, we need to take deep, slow breaths and focus on regaining control. Try taking a deep breath before your next intense conversation. Take the time to listen, and have the courage to trust.