Forging relationships with family members and friends of all ages is one of the best ways for seniors to remain connected with loved ones. Senior relationships with tweens and teens have two-way benefits.
Seniors can offer life guidance and wisdom. Meanwhile, teens keep the older people in their lives apprised of new ways of thinking, trends and interesting elements of a constantly evolving society.
It's true that phone calls with tweens and teens might seem daunting at first. However, we have some tips to make things a bit less awkward.
One of the reasons that phone calls between seniors and tweens/teens can be awkward is because they tend to be spaced out. Any relationship centered on holiday-only phone calls is bound to suffer. This is especially true if you live far away and don't see your younger relatives routinely.
Pick a day of the week — preferably one in which the tween/teen in your life is most likely to be available — and call around the same time. This works out even better if they are willing to pick a time with you. This ensures you have both cleared your schedules to prioritize time to chat.
It doesn't hurt to send a text reminder ahead of the call. This allows ample opportunity for flexibility in case either of you has something else to do. And it makes the call feel less like a requirement.
One of the things many tweens/teens value most is someone who takes an active interest in their life. Therefore, the most successful phone call will be one in which you find out more about what is happening in your tween/teen's world.
Don't prepare a list of questions. Rather, as the conversation flows, ask questions as they seem appropriate. This will help you learn more about what's important to your tween/teen. It will also open segues into chances to ask questions and interject wisdom.
Tweens and teens have shark-like senses when it comes to the adults in their lives trying too hard. This almost always causes them to become more guarded and closed-off.
So, whatever you do, don't try too hard. Reach for common topics, avoid lecturing on the call and keep things light, unless they steer the conversation in another direction.
If one or both of you is not in the mood to chat that day, it's perfectly acceptable to let them know you are thinking about them, you love them and then end the call. Teens often respond well to this level of respect for their notoriously shifting moods.
To avoid grappling for conversation on your phone call, make an effort to learn more about some of the things they are interested in. You don't have to get to influencer status on social media or know the names of all the members of BTS.
But it does help if you are somewhat knowledgeable about technology and top-level trends. The call is more likely to be successful if you know a little about their hobbies or subjects that interest them.
Even something so simple as talking about one of the latest social media trends or a funny video your neighbor showed you on TikTok can create common ground between the two of you.
If you are on a consistent phone call schedule with the tween/teen in your life, supplement the time between those calls with other forms of communication. This can set the stage for topics of conversation once you both hop on the phone.
Forward interesting news or articles via email. Share memes via text or social media. Comment on their social media pictures or posts. The more engaged you are with them via other forms of technology, the more likely it is that your phone calls will be successful.
A good rule of thumb for this is to keep things light, especially on social media. If the post in question seems like one that relates to an inside joke between your tween/teen and their friends, refrain from commenting. Instead, reference the post in your call so you don't inadvertently embarrass them by commenting on their page.
Ultimately, forging a relationship with a tween/teen can be challenging for all family members, no matter what their age. Set your relationship apart by creating a positive element to your phone calls.
Offer encouragement and show them that they can call you any time just to talk or have someone solidly in their corner. This can go a long way towards more successful, routine phone calls and ensure they have someone they can trust to be their sounding board.
Whether you're choosing to make a home in an assisted living community such as Autumn View Gardens or living with teens in a family home, it takes work to support these relationships. Put these tips into action to start that work today.