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Passing Down a Family Heirloom to Your Teenage Grandchildren During the Holidays

Christmas provides a wonderful opportunity for passing down a family heirloom to your teenage grandchildren. The teenage years are impressionable, critical to adult development, and a time to more deeply connect them to their family identity.

Most teens struggle with identity as they seek to discover who they are and what their future might hold. They are considering careers, thinking about being out on their own and planning post-high school education. It’s both exciting and terrifying to teens and parents alike. As grandparents who have been through the transition into adulthood and that of our own children, we have an opportunity to add a layer of calm and vision to the process. The perfect choice of a family heirloom for exactly the right grandchild at exactly the right moment could make lasting impressions.

Passing Down a Family Heirloom

This holiday season, consider doing a quick inventory of things you’ve been saving to pass down and evaluate your teenage Grands. Are they struggling with any particular issues? Have they developed interests that tie to items of family history you might be storing? Is there a family story attached to an heirloom that would interest a certain grandchild? Make this the year that item and story get passed along.

Do it with panache! Prepare the gift with special attention to detail. It might be that you locate a special storage container for the item or spend some time writing the details of the heirloom’s history. You may choose to take the grandchild on a solo lunch or dinner date to give the gift privately. You may choose to gift the heirloom in a large family setting with a mini family history lesson to share with all. Either way, give the heirloom with more than just the material possession. Share history, stories, and people. Connect your teenage grandchild to the long line of ancestors that is behind them. Give your Grand a sense of belonging to a greater human experience than just what they see around them.

Understanding Their Response

What if the grandchild isn’t as impressed as you’d like them to be when you make your grand gesture and gift? Don’t fret. Teens, in their developing adulthood often try to act cool and unimpressed. Be gracious, pray you’ve touched their heart, and wait. You can’t see the inner workings of a young heart. You may not hear what you need to hear to know the impression you desired was made, but trust that you did the right thing and your grandchild’s heart will remember. Think about this:

True kindness is never wrong. Kindness and loving words may imprint on a heart in ways that surface years later.

What if you don’t have physical heirlooms to pass down to Grands? Write or make voice or video recordings of family stories and share those as living heirlooms. With modern smartphones, anyone can make a video and pass it along to their grandchildren. Perfection is not the point so don’t spend too much time worrying about editing, lighting, etc. Capture yourself and your family’s stories and memories. Your grandchildren may watch such videos repeatedly, particularly after you’ve passed on. They will hear your voice, see your smiles, and feel your love for years to come.

May the holidays provide a time for you to share both heirlooms and family memories with your teenage Grands. Give them an opportunity to join the ranks of the generations as young adults with their own role to play in your family’s story.

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