Can you help me improve my relationship with my grandparents? They recently moved across the country to be closer to family (my parents, my sister and me + husband). We've grown apart since I transitioned from child to adult (which I think is fairly normal) and I was looking forward to having them in the same city to get closer again. This is turning out to be more difficult than originally premised. Special snowflake details within.
posted by pallas14 to human relations (25 answers total)
The relationship now is very superficial. I know they care about me and I'm sure they "love" me, but they are not very expressive at showing this (at least in ways I understand) and we aren't really connecting on anything.
Some complicating factors:
- We don't really have much in common (aside from the fact that I have their genetic material, of course). Grandma and I share a love of reading, but she tends to read genres that are very different than I do. I am actually in a similar career field to what Grandpa did before he retired, but this is not a great bonding point because I get a feeling of disapproval that I am working in what is traditionally a male dominated field.
- Neither are really interested in anything "new", and by that, I mean anything from the last 40 years. This applies to music, movies, theatre, books, even food. Attempts to introduce them to anything new are generally met with dismissal. For example, I was talking about how excited I was about the new Doctor Who premier. Since Grandma is interested in some sci fi / fantasy, I told her she should give it a try. She basically said, "Oh, does the Doctor have a long scarf and eat Jelly Bellies?" When we explained that no, this was a reboot of the old series, she basically said she wasn't interested in any Doctor more recent than Tom Baker.
- Neither one is very mobile, although my Grandma is worse than my Grandpa. Anything that requires more than walking about 100 yards or any stairs is too far for my Grandma. This eliminates going to museums, going to movies, plays or musicals (although we have made this work by dropping her off at the door and taking her straight to her seat), shopping, parks, ball games, cooking.
- Grandpa is hard of hearing, won't admit it, and won't see a doctor about it. The family dynamic on that side is such that no one can really talk to him about it. This makes group interactions very difficult because the rest of the group will be having a discussion and he'll make a comment that is completely off topic that completely derails the conversation, or try to get into a separate conversation with just the person seated next to him. I know one solution to this would be to spend more time with him one on one but this is difficult because he also really values having the whole family together. And because, as previously mentioned, we basically have nothing in common to talk about.
- Grandpa also has some views and beliefs that I find very troubling. Although I recognize that this is partly a generational issue, when he makes homophobic, racist, or sexist remarks, I am not able to simply bite my tongue and change the topic. Usually by this point, he has had a few drinks and since he can't really hear what I said, his response is to repeat his point more loudly and more forcefully. I then realize my drink needs refilling and leave the room for a few minutes to calm down. Another reason I am hesitant to spend much one on one time with him, because when he pulls that crap, it would be more difficult for me to gracefully excuse myself.
Some things I plan on doing -
- Try to find some books that I enjoyed that my grandmother would enjoy reading and pass them on to her and try to get her to read them. She is a fairly voracious reader, so I could probably convince her to try some new stuff. The rest of my family (except Grandpa) are also readers, so I might try to get everyone to read the same book at the same time and then we can have a mini book club to discuss.
- Organize outings with Grandpa even if Grandma can't come, probably to ball games or similar. I have no interest in sports, but he likes watching them, so we will try that.
- Keep looking for something where I can meet Grandpa on his level without feeling like I am going to gouge my eyeballs out. I haven't come up with anything yet, but I'm hoping I might if I keep looking.
What other things can I be doing to try to better connect with my grandparents? What can I be doing to better cross the generational gap?