How easy is it to develop and maintain a close relationship with your grandchildren when you live some distance away? Beth Havey explores….
There are so many days when we wonder what our grandchildren are doing.
Living in a mobile society that allows us the freedom to move from state to state or to other countries provides many positives. But being close to grandchildren and thus able to develop close relationships isn’t one of them.
Distance initially can be exciting: perhaps you’ve taken the opportunity to move or retire abroad or your son or daughter snares a fantastic job in a city you’ll love visiting. But when they settle down and your grandchildren begin to arrive—it’s no longer exciting. Unless you are able to jump on a plane in a moment, wistful yearnings enter your life. Even day-to-day sadness…
- I’d like to be there when Sarah has her baby
- Maybe I can be there for the baby shower
- If only I could be there for Grandparents Day
- I just want to be there…
Many 50-something grandparents miss frequent contact. Here are some ideas for forming strong and meaningful connections. Consider your grandchildren’s ages when choosing!
- Special phone calls: on any old day, just ask to speak to your grandchild—they love getting personal calls
- Your favorite thing today: call and share yours then ask them to share theirs
- Skype, Face Time, i-Chat etc: a great way to have face to face as well as voice contact
- e-cards like Blue Mountain: send interactive cards on special days like Valentine’s, Easter, Christmas, Hanukah, and of course birthdays
- Snail mail—children LOVE it! Keep in touch sending small gifts like stickers, coloring books, books, music CDs—or simply print a note of love, clip a fun cartoon and address it just to them!
- Photo sharing: share photos via Facebook or email; iphones have video capabilities so you can experience your grandson’s first steps or your granddaughter’s first words
- Photos of your life and your world: your grandchildren will see your Christmas tree or your birthday celebration when they can’t be there
- Photo books (iPhoto, Snapfish): after a visit or vacation, make two copies, one for you and one for them
- Grandchildren Calendar (iPhoto, Snapfish): create a calendar using photos of you and your grandchildren for each month; mark the dates for visits or special events
- Nana’s Calendar: create a special monthly calendar with your name on it —ask your grandchild to write about a happy, exciting, sad or confusing day; when they send it back to you or read over the phone, you can share advice, love and laughter with them
- Growth Chart: send each grandchild a Growth Chart printed with your phone number—you want a phone call when each new measurement occurs
- Grandkids space: prepare a special place in your home when they visit—for younger kids, have a small table and chairs, games, toys and drawing materials, for older games and books and privacy
- Encouragement: pledges for fund raisers, report card rewards, attending special sports or musical events–they all cement a great relationship
A Few Other Ideas
- Joe, a personal trainer, had a photo taken of him with his four grandchildren wearing their team jerseys. Everyone has a copy!
- Sue takes her grandchildren on periodic trips to different places in the U.S.
- John loves to sit with his grandchildren and start a story: Once upon a time—at a certain point he stops the story and one of the grandchildren picks up the thread and continues. The ensuing story provides laughter and fun.
- I spend hours painting and coloring with my grandchildren. Often we play music and sing while we create.
- Kathy has older grandchildren. They play Words with Friends back and forth.
- Pat reads a book and passes it to her granddaughter—they share and discuss later on.
Please share your ideas—all of us want to bridge that distance and stay close to our grandchildren.
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