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Long-distance grandparenting

Posted In New GrandParents - By KidsMug On Friday, February 24th, 2012 With 1 Comment

It’s estimated that about 50 percent of grandparents live more than 200 miles from their grandchildren. Children’s lives can change very quickly, so long-distance grandparents sometimes struggle trying to keep up with the day-to-day details of their grandkids’ lives. Often, it just requires special efforts to communicate with your grandchild that in turn will establish the foundation for a strong long-term relationship.

When your grandchild is a baby, toddler, or very young child, engage the parents to keep up to date on your grandchild’s progress, his or her current interests, and the type of reading or viewing material that might be appropriate. When the child is old enough to interact, whether on the phone, via email, or through regular mail, start engaging the child directly.

Grandparenting in the digital age
For the computer-savvy, the Internet can add a whole new dimension to long-distance grandparenting. Email, instant messaging, and video conferencing can all help to shrink the miles and keep you in touch with your grandchildren. Use the available technology to engage your grandchild in creative activities rather than simply asking, “How’s school?” For example, you can play online games with your grandchild, start an online bookclub or fantasy sports league with them, or share videos of you or your grandkids enjoying a favorite hobby. Try exchanging jokes or favorite family recipes via email, or have them scan or fax report cards or pictures they’ve drawn.

Other ways to stay connected
As well as the Internet, there are plenty of other ways to help long distance grandparenting:

  • Discount long-distance phone plans or inexpensive phone cards (even international ones) make it possible to say in touch regardless of the distance. Try calling at a regular time when your grandchild is not rushed and has time to talk. When talking to your grandchildren, make notes about their interests, books they’ve been reading, doll’s name—anything you can repeat in the next conversation so they know you’ve been listening.
  • Snail mail. Even before a child can read, he or she will be able to recognize their name on an envelope, and will love the feeling of importance implied by receiving mail.
  • Audio or video recordings. You can record yourself reading a few of your favorite children’s books and send the recording along with the books, or make a tape of songs you would sing if you were together.
  • Family scrapbooks. Kids love to hear stories about their family. If you can’t be with them to recount family stories first hand, try writing them down. Add photos or create a scrapbook (online or off). Encourage your grandkids to add their own memories and photos.

All of these small things communicate your interest and love. Whenever possible, though, try to be present for the most important events in your grandchild’s life, such as graduations, recitals, holidays, or whatever events are important to your family.

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