Grandparents, do you know your grandchildren’s favorite color, closest friend, or their very favorite activity? Do you know what brings them joy, sorrow, or worry? Most grandparents would say they want to know more about their grandchildren, but they often find their loved ones are too busy to talk about special things or there just isn’t the right setting to ask personal questions. However, with the pandemic stay-at-home orders, now may be the perfect time to connect with your grandchildren in a creative way by doing an Interview. Here are two amazing ways to interview your grandchildren.
What is an Interview? An interview is defined as a meeting at which information is obtained from another person. Often we think of an interview as someone getting asked questions for a prospective job or a reporter asking questions for the news. But if we broaden the idea into asking a loved one questions to get to know them better, we are doing an interview.
Not all interviews look the same. They can be carried out over social media like Zoom or Facebook, over the telephone, through email, or in a letter sent to your grandchild. The interview can happen all at once or be an ongoing process that happens every few days to every couple weeks. The format can be informal to formal. And grandchildren can reverse roles and interview the grandparents. Kids love this one!
1. Grandparents Interview First
The first consideration is the age of each grandchild. You can interview a three year old by asking more concrete questions that cover things like favorite color, food, game, etc. Preschoolers can also relate to emotions, so don’t hesitate to explore feelings. You never know what you will get! Grade school children may be the easiest to interview because they know themselves better and they are generally not afraid to share information. Tweens and teens will have the most in-depth answers if they feel safe opening up to you. Start slowly with all age groups and see where it goes.
Do kids like to be interviewed? Ask yourself whether people like to talk about themselves and have others REALLY listen to them. The answer to this question is yes for almost everyone. Kids are no exception. Just be sensitive to how long your grandchild seems interested in the activity and do make it fun. The interview may last a few minutes or much longer depending on the age and mood of the child.
You can start by saying you want to try this fun question-and-answer game. Or maybe you could say you want to learn more about their stories, likes, and dislikes and then they will get to do the same to you. You could even play it up with a reporter hat, paper and pencil, and a microphone. And remember that reporters are there to collect information, not judge or comment on the content.
Open-ended questions will allow the interview to go lots of directions. Ideas for questions can include:
- What is your favorite game/ color/ food/ activity/ movie/ book/etc.?
- Who is your best friend?
- Do you like school? Favorite and least favorite subject?
- If you could be an animal, which would it be? Why?
- If you could choose anything you wanted to do this today, what would it be?
- What’s your favorite family story?
- Imagine that you are grown up like Mom and Dad, what do you want to be?
- I would love to hear about the time that ………(family story). Can you tell me more about it?
- What makes you happy/ sad/ mad/ worried/ etc.?
You will probably be recording their answers, but perhaps they would like to do this task. Do not be in a hurry to get to the next question. If your grandchild starts to tell you a full answer, encourage them to tell you more. Your job is not to get through your list of questions, but to allow you and your grandchild to get to know each other better. You could even put their answers in a book for them to read later. Be sure to judge when they stop being engaged. A few minutes may be all you get for the first few interviews.
2. Reverse Roles with Grandchildren
Encourage them to play interviewer to you. Perhaps they want to know crazy family stories or what you and your siblings used to fight about or tales of the worst family vacations ever. They may want to prepare their own interview questions before talking to you. Kara Baskin from the Boston Globe recommends thinking in terms of hyperbole, disaster, and good guys versus bad guys. She says kids want stories about people they know and things they can relate to. Kids also love to hear stories about what their parents were like as kids. If you had some old family pictures to show them on social media, this could start a discussion.
Here are some interview ideas for them to ask you:
- Tell me some of your favorite/worst family vacations with mom/dad.
- What was my mom like when she was my age?
- What’s the worst thing you ever did?
- Did you ever have to go through something like a pandemic or a war?
- Were you ever really worried about something? What did you do?
- What did you do for fun when you were my age?
- How did you meet Nana?
These interview ideas are just in case your grandchildren get stuck on what to ask you. Chances are that they will relish being able to ask you absolutely anything and get a thoughtful answer.
Two amazing ways to interview with your grandchildren are discussed. Most grandparents do not know most of their grandchildren’s likes, dislikes, feelings, or favorite stories. Interviewing is a unique method of connecting from a distance and learning more about your grandchildren at the same time. Given that most of us have extra time on our hands, this may be the perfect period to start the interview process with your grandchildren. It may even become a family tradition and something to be written down as family history. So get your reporter cap on and go get the scoop on your most cherished people.
Sally Baird, PhD is a retired child psychologist and co-author of a new book titled Shrinking the Worry Monster, A Kids’ Guide for Saying Goodbye to Worries. See her website at www.drsallyb.com. If your child has worries about COVID-19, you may want to read Dr. Sally’s blog on helping kids who worry about the pandemic, school, illness, and so much more!
***This article will be published in Parent Map of Seattle this summer.***