Grandparents Get Involved
- Ideas for Grandparents
from A Grandpa's Notebook
by Meyer Moldeven
A fun way to open lines of
communications while visiting grandchildren,
be they nearby or far away, is the audiotaped interview.
the grandchild knows grandma and grandpa, they're
part of everyday life.
Far away is different, geography causes gaps. The
builds self-esteem and confidence in a youngster.
It's an excellent
learning experience, and creates a record of lasting
memories for the
An interview structures a conversation. Men are
often as reticent as
women are eloquent: women are much more socially
oriented than men
and communicate easier. However, the interview
technique can be a
starter to work through Grandpa's reserve. It quickly
participants in a dialogue and is as much fun for
one as for the other.
Vague questions by adults should be avoided; they're
Let's set up an interview.
Grandma and Grandpa plan to visit Son or Daughter
Grandchildren. The visit will include Grandpa or
interviewed by Grandchild.
In arranging the visit, Grandma or Grandpa discusses
with Son or
Daughter what they have in mind. A tape recorder
or camcorder, in good
working order, is available or will be brought
along. It's fine with
Son/Daughter and they agree to prepare Grandchild,
including a set of
preliminary questions. It's a fun experience, but
don't insist having an
audience that will make anyone present self-conscious
When all concerned are ready (recorder checked
and set up, the date,
time, place, names, occasion, and whatever else
considered prefatory has
been recorded in advance) Grandchild opens with
the first question. In
this example, Grandpa is being interviewed.
In responding, Grandpa avoids the simple 'yes'
or 'no' answer even when
such might suffice. Sure, Grandpa could respond
with 'Yes' or 'No' to
'Grandpa, is your first name 'Tom'.' But wouldn't
it be more fun if
Grandpa transformed his reply into family lore
with 'Yes, it is, and let me
tell you how I got that name. The Sunday after
I was born, my Dad
hooked ol' Dobbin to the sleigh to take us all
to....' and he's away into
another bit of Lore Americana.
Unless agreed to in advance, questions and answers
Knowing what a young grandchild likes to talk about
is important and
can focus the interview.
Youngsters, though, have minds of their own and
might well pop an
unexpected question. Using 'we' or 'us' and encouraging
Grandchild keeps the interview from becoming one-sided.
Grandchildren pile up their experiences and feelings
for an anticipated
interaction, and an interview will provide opportunities
to talk about them
Grandpa creates opportunities.
For instance, in answering a question, he
closes with: 'That's how it worked out for us;
now, how about you? Did
you ever...?' and the switch is made.
The interview can go in one direction then the
other for as long as both
want it to. In the give-and-take Grandchild learns
a lot about Grandma
and Grandpa, and everyone involved in the game
awareness, and renew and revitalize family traditions
Expect spontaneity and deep probing by youngsters
when they are the
interviewers. They are interested in the origins
of people and things;
depending on their ages, of course, be ready for
such questions as:
What are stars in the sky?
What keeps them up
when everything else
Why is the sun? The moon? Who made them?
do eggs come from? Did I come from an egg? Well,
then, where did I
come from? Is that where you came from? Where is
a baby before it's
born? Why did (Grandpa/Grandma) die? Where is (he/she)