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Teenager Publishes Online Newsletter to Bridge Gap
with her grandmother, Ruth Vincent
July 17, 2005 – If you are a grandparent, or even a
parent, you have to love this story. It is about Lauren Teegarden, a
high school senior in Portland, Oregon, who has started her own Website.
That may not be too unusual but this teenager-created site is called
"The Grandparent Connection" – not a topic many teenagers get fired up
Lauren began "The Grandparent Connection" in 2003,
when she says she saw a need to bridge the "generation gap" between
grandparents and their grandchildren.
She says she publishes a newsletter that is
distributed only by email, although you can find the newsletters to on
her Website at
www.thegrandparentconnection.org, where you can also subscribe – for
“It began as a print newsletter, which I
distributed at local (Portland) area senior centers,” says Lauren. “In
January 2005, however, I switched to an email-only distribution to reach
a greater number of seniors and a greater geographic area.”
The newsletter covers a wide array of topics,
including editiorials, expository articles, crafts, activities, recipes,
advice, gift-giving tips, and suggestions to preserve memories. Each
month's newsletter features a different combination.
“Currently, I have about 1000 regular subscribers,”
she says, “but I also send the newsletter to a few senior centers which
distribute print copies.”
The readers of "The Grandparent Connection" are
from all across the continental US, and there are a few in the UK,
Australia, and Canada.
In describing how the publication works, she says,
“While I do most of the writing myself, I have started getting other
teens to contribute some of the editorial material, since it is getting
difficult to keep up with it all! The best part of the process is, of
course, the feedback that I receive from the readers. Many seniors seem
to enjoy it, and I've gotten some lovely heart-felt letters.”
And, it may have launched a journalistic career -
Lauren also writes a column on senior-teen relations for a
California-based senior paper. When she gets to college, next year, she
says she does plan on exploring “a communications-related field, most
likely business with an emphasis on marketing/PR.”
Log on to
www.thegrandparentconnection.org to sign up for the free newsletter,
which will be delivered monthly to your inbox.
At the site you will also find additional articles
and advice, as well as past issues.
“Fresh, fun, and informative, The Grandparent
Connection is a delight for any grandparent,” says Lauren’s promotion,
Following is one of Lauren’s articles about
grandparents and teenagers. This article explains the basis for her
Grandparents and Teenagers
Are teenagers as impossible
the second time around? Hardly.
By Lauren Teegarden
While young children
often admire and revere their grandparents, the same may not be true for
teenagers. Being a grandparent to a teen requires some special skills.
Your golden-curled, chubby-cheeked cutie may have morphed into a
sharp-tongued, pierced-lipped teen, but don’t disappear for the teen
years just because the difficulty of grandparenting has increased
several notches on the Richter scale. Grandparents are especially
important during this stage of life. You can provide support and advice
to parents, become a confidante to teens, and help ease family conflict
between teens and their parents.
As soon as the adorable
child becomes a teenager, the absolute authority that mom and dad once
had seems to evaporate overnight. The result in most families?
Conflict. With the right tactics, however, grandparents can become a
neutral ground in such conflicts. Because teenagers are not as
emotionally intertwined with grandparents as with parents, grandparents
can become a valuable emotional sanctuary separate from mom and dad’s
“unfair” rules and regulations. Let’s examine the importance of the
1. Teens can learn
While it may not be
obvious, teenagers are in search of their grandparent’s knowledge and
information. Teenagers are interested in many topics that parents are
too busy (or too young) to talk about: marriage, politics, aging,
religion, love, and the past. Grandparents represent the spirit of the
family and are an important role model for teenagers. Regardless of
outward attitude, all teens want what family represents—a sense of
2. Grandparents can
learn from teenagers.
Grandparents can learn to
“get with it” from their grandchildren. This might mean using technology
(such as email or instant messaging), updating an outdated wardrobe,
trying a new type of food, or adapting vocabulary for the 21st century.
It’s no secret that teenagers today have very different lives than, say,
the 1940’s, and that degree of separation can actually provide a
platform for connection. Just as your grandchildren are a link to the
future, you are your grandchildren’s link to the past.
In order to successfully
relate to your teenage grandchild, you must experience some of the same
things he or she experiences. Try watching a movie or TV show that your
grandchild likes, taking your grandchild shopping, or reading a
contemporary book with teenagers as the main characters. Don’t worry if
you haven’t an immediate affinity for today’s teen culture; too much has
happened in the past fifty-plus years.
While it is valuable to
experience the life and times of your teenager, don’t get carried away.
Contrary to some views, teens want grandparents to be garage-band
observers—not participants. All kids find security in the constant
state of their grandparents.
Grandparent-grandchild relations can benefit parents.
If you live in proximity
to your grandchild, provide a sanctuary for them. When relationship
problems (from family, school, etc.) arise, be a listening ear and sage
source of advice. Provide an environment where kids feel safe baring
their dreams, fears, and regrets. Their peers may give questionable
advice, and parents’ advice is often ignored, but your thoughts and
opinions may be treated with respect.
Be a resource for parents
as well as kids. As you most likely vividly recall from the 70’s
long-hair, hippie phase, raising a teenager is hardly a picnic. If
asked, share advice—or perhaps stories from when they were teenagers.
Grandparents often fill
babysitting roles for young children, but “babysitting” can also apply
to teens. Relieve mom and dad of their parenting responsibilities—and
spend time with your grandchildren--by inviting the grandkids to your
home for a weekend.
The teenage years couple
both difficult and rewarding moments. During the years between the cute
child and mature adult, character is molded. As a grandparent, it is
both your privilege and duty to have a part in this process. After all,
they’re a valuable legacy!
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