Helping grandchildren 'unplug,' talking to aging parents

Hi Mary Jo,

It distresses me that my 4 grandkids’ lives seem to be taken over by video games and social media. Their parents are busy and that’s their only way to get time to get things done around the house. How can I deal with that?



Dear Brad,
Working parents have less and less time when they get home to go to the park or make play dates for their kids, and although the generation before them was able to send their kids outside to play without immediate supervision, those days are gone, and a safe, quiet alternative is unfortunately social media. Social media is real life, and you cannot escape it. However, you can give them temporary escapes when they come and see you. Creating an unplugged life when they share time with you may be some of their fondest memories. Things such as reading books, playing board games, doing puzzles or creative projects help your grandkids escape their virtual world and nurture their brains with experiences that aren’t lived through a screen.

Hi Mary Jo,

My father is almost 93. He’s in good shape, but he’s old. How do I speak with him now to be respectful, but respecting as well his limitations?



Dear Nancy,

This is a common challenge for many. In your busy life it’s difficult to slow down and take your time with your aging parents, but it makes all the difference in them feeling respected and cared for. Here are other things that will help. 

  • Talk louder, but don’t shout.
  • Slow your speech.
  • Be patient and compassionate. Their world is different than the world you experience in your busy life.
  • Ask instead of order.
  • Give two choices (too many can be confusing) instead of telling them what to do.
  • Ask them when you don’t understand what they mean. Making assumptions is dangerous and makes them feel talked down to.
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