For most Indians, a childhood memory will often have one permanent fixture—grandparents. While grandparents instinctively know about the needs of their grandchildren, the reverse is not often true. That is because old age and its challenges cannot be instinctively understood by someone who has not experienced it.
Unlike senior citizens in the west, those in India carry with them a set of expectations from their grandchildren. This is particularly true for Indian grandparents, most of whom grew up in the joint family system with the belief that when the time comes they will be well taken care of by their children and grandchildren. They may not necessarily voice it but it helps to understand the unique needs of Indian grandparents.
Help with technology
Give a toddler a mobile phone and he/she will figure it out within hours. Give a 60-year-old the latest mobile phone and in all probability, they will struggle to operate it. Most Indian grandparents struggle with technology. While some tech-savvy grandpas and grandmas can put their grandchildren to shame, for the vast majority, the changing technology is a huge challenge. This can be frustrating for them. As a grandchild, you can help them with this learning process. Just consider it payback for the extreme patience with which they explained things to you when you were a kid. Help them to learn how to update their mobile phones or how to operate a tablet. It will also help them feel independent if they learn how to make a zoom call to someone without having to rely on someone every time.
Help with online transactions/operations
Walk into any bank and you are most likely to find senior citizens waiting to get their passbooks updated or for any other banking work which can be done online. There’s a reason why most senior citizens prefer to flock to the bank—fear and ignorance about online or banking transactions. As a grandchild, you can help them get over their fear and wariness and make their lives much easier by teaching them about online transactions and banking operations. It will take some patience but once they master it, you will see the gratitude in their eyes. Yes, it will mean they will bug you with queries but so what? Grin and bear it just like they did when you were a kid and wouldn’t keep quiet. Helping them with online transactions would also mean they can buy that Manka Ramayana or book a ticket online without having to rely on their kids or grandkids.
The need and desire to be consulted
Our grandparents grew up in an era when seniors at home were consulted for almost all the decisions, including what should be on the menu for dinner or when should the next Satya Narayan Katha be held.
A simple thing like seeking their opinion could go a long way in making them feel valued and useful. It need not be about the mysteries surrounding Mars. It can be about why the Shree Ganesh Nitya Aradhana is read on certain days. You can even seek their opinion about things they may not know much about. The mere fact that you bothered to know their views is often enough for them.
The need to be accepted for their beliefs
Most Indian grandparents are deeply religious and often have strong opinions about rituals. It may make them seem ‘old fashioned’ to the younger generation, but these beliefs are very important to them. Respect their beliefs even if you don’t agree with them. This means if they tell you to read the Shani Chalisa every Saturday to ward off the ill effects of Saturn, do it. Your acceptance will mean the world to them.
The need to be constantly informed
Now, this is a uniquely unique trait of Indian grandparents. Who hasn’t heard the question “Kahan ja rahe ho, kab lautoge” from their grandparents. The answer to the question is very important for your grandparents. They often suffer from anxiety which gets aggravated by lack of information. Hence make it a point to keep them in the loop. If you are going out, tell them where you are headed or why you are going out. They are not trying to control your life but just want to be reassured that they matter enough to be told about your whereabouts.
The need to stay in touch
How many times have you forwarded a dumb joke to your friend? Next time why not send it to your dada or nana? The simple gesture would make them happy for it would mean you remembered them. And it need not always be jokes. Came across an interesting site like penaurpaper, a religious article or even something to do with senior citizen’s health? Forward it to them. They would be glad to have you engage with them in any way possible.
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