Since 1978, Grandparents Day has been an opportunity to acknowledge grandparents and grandparent-like figures in children’s lives. Celebrated on the Sunday after Labor Day, it is a time to honor the history and love that is passed down from generations.
Grandparents Day is also an opportunity to initiate multigenerational conversations about the ups and downs of parenthood. A lot has changed since today’s grandparents were raising their own children, and there are a lot of safety and wellbeing recommendations of which other generations may not be aware.
Overcoming the Challenges of Multigenerational Conversations
It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child, and those who have a supportive village are incredibly fortunate. However, having a village often means a lot of differing opinions on how children should be raised.
Child-rearing advice often changes from one generation to the next. Car seats, for example, are not mandatory in every country – and only became mandatory in all 50 US states in the mid-80s. Changes such as this means there are bound to be some ideas that parents of the older generation subscribe to and that new parents find outdated.
Addressing these differing views can be intimidating. It may feel as if such a conversation can be taken out of context and come across accusational. However, engaging in open and honest communication will enable everyone involved to feel respected and valued. Grandparent’s Day is a great segway to initiate these conversations. You can bring up the topic in a casual conversation rather than in response to someone’s actions. The best way to ensure a fruitful conversation is to keep a two-way dialogue. Ask questions to keep the other person speaking such as, ‘how are things different now compared to when you were raising your family?’ or ‘what do you think are the biggest challenges parents today face that weren’t around when you were raising children?’. These open ended questions will help lead into any serious matters you need to discuss – and you may learn something along the way!
Topics Worth Discussing
If you don’t have any immediate concerns or disagreements with parents of older generations, it is still worthwhile to strike up a conversation about these generational changes. Talking about some topics now can save disagreements or mitigate risks to children in the future. Consider your stance on these hot topics, and ensure that your expectations are communicated.
- Screen time – Do you allow it? What is an appropriate amount?
- YouTube – How do you monitor your child’s activity?
- Gender and Sexuality – How are you creating an inclusive space?
- Body parts – How do you empower children through language?
- Social outings – When and where are they allowed to go?
- Mental health – How to recognize and address changes in mental wellbeing?
- Driving Safety – How do you role model behind the wheel?
- Consent – How do you empower children to set boundaries?
- Bullying – How do you recognize and respond to signs of bullying?
- Social Media – Is it allowed? How do you keep children safe?
Are you interested in continuing the conversation? Visit Child Safety Pledge for more advice on safety and wellbeing for children of all ages and identities.