Bonding with grandchildren can be challenging for grandparents who live far away. However, there are many wonderful ways for grandparents to build relationships with their grands despite the distance. To establish a strong connection with a grandchild, it’s beneficial to have parental support to set up convenient times to communicate, provide help as needed, and plan in-person visits. Grandparents should aim to respect boundaries and honor the wishes of the parents to forge close relationships.
Here are four great ways to connect with a grandchild across the miles:
- Plan regularly scheduled phone calls. Video telephony applications such as FaceTime and Skype enable grandparents to talk to and see their grandchildren via long distance. Establish a time for your video call that is convenient for all. Do fun things like read books together or dance to music. Keep the calls lighthearted so that grandchildren will experience the joy of your special time together and look forward to more. Young children crave consistency, so be reliable, dependable, and available to them.
- Play fun games online using virtual game apps. Together, with the parents, preview and select age-appropriate games to play. Some fun ones to consider are Crazy Eights, Candy Land, Rummikub, Scrabble, Clue, Monopoly, Dominoes, Chess, and more. Note that some of these fun games are free, while others must be purchased.
- Text or Instant Message. With parental permission, this is a great way for older grandchildren with smartphones to instantly communicate with grandparents. Be their biggest cheerleader for the positive things they do. This will encourage them to put their best foot forward. Since some social media platforms may have negative influences on youth, always clear your method of communication with the parents and establish appropriate times to text or message.
- Send old-fashioned mail. Handwritten cards and letters become important keepsakes. Writing is a wonderful way to surprise grandchildren with special letters and thoughtful gifts. Send upbeat letters with happy stories of the past and present. Include photos that they can treasure. From time to time, if you’re so inclined, send small thoughtful gifts such as homemade cookies, a toy, a t-shirt, or comfy socks. Do ask grands to write you in return, with the help of Mom and Dad as needed, so that you may learn their news as well. Kids will enjoy checking the mail for letters from grandma or grandpa.
Great news for grandparents. Per Economist.com, two demographic trends are making “nana and gramps” more important. Not only are grandparents living longer than ever before, but families are shrinking. Global life expectancy rose from 51 to 72 since 1960. And, over that same time frame, the number of babies a woman can expect to have in her lifetime has fallen by half from 5 to 2.4. This translates into a larger and more focused role that grandparents may lovingly play. Regardless of the miles between, children deserve the love, guidance, care, and recognition that only grandparents can supply. Rather than miss out due to distance, know that there are amazing ways, such as those listed above, to connect from afar and positively impact a grandchild’s world.
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