Many people, particularly baby boomers, find themselves taking care of parents and children at the same time. When everyone shares a home, it can be difficult to get everyone to communicate and feel connected.
Even if grandchildren and grandparents get along well for visits, once everyone is living together 24/7 the situation may change. As the person in the middle, it may be up to you to build a bridge between the generations. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Plan family dinners: With crazy schedules this may be difficult, but start with one dinner together a week and build from there. Fix something that everyone enjoys and make it feel special with fresh flowers or candles. Don’t rely on chance for discussion topics. Make a plan for questions that would be fun for people of all ages. For example: what was your favorite birthday and why? If you have trouble coming up with ideas, pick up a packet or a book of fun questions or dinner table topics.
Play games: A challenging game of Monopoly or Clue can bridge generations. Or you may have your children teach grandpa to bowl on the Wii. By sharing fun experiences barriers will break down and everyone will be more comfortable. Shared fun memories are a great way to make friends.
Tell stories: These might be prompted by family heirlooms or just memories of past events that were exciting, funny or important. Remember to draw out stories from every generation. Grandparents may enjoy hearing about last year’s school play and your kids might like to know what it was like to live in a world without computers and the Internet.
Just a bit of effort can help every generation connect with every other, turning a house full of different people into a true family that enjoys being together.