Long-Distance Grandparents

Long-Distance Grandparents

How to Connect with Your Grandchildren from Afar

Children need their grandparents, and grandparents need their grandchildren. Studies show that relationships which span generations are healthy for a child’s development, especially their sense of identity and security.

Similarly, seniors who have close relationships with their grandchildren are mentally and emotionally healthier than those who are estranged from their families.
However, in our mobile society today, it is not unusual for families to be separated by many miles. This makes it difficult to build – or maintain – relationships with grandchildren. Thankfully with today’s technology, there are many options for staying in touch with the younger generation.

Need some tips for staying connected? Here are some ideas for those whose grandchildren are far away:

Get Online. Modern technology may be intimidating or confusing for the older generation, but it is worth the effort to figure it out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Older grandchildren will probably be glad to help you learn! Once you’re online, use programs like Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facebook Chat to connect with your grandchildren. Even a baby or a toddler (with their parents’ help) can interact with you over a video conference and become familiar with your face and voice.

Make audio or video recordings. Read a book to your grandchild on video. Record a CD of songs to share.

Send surprises in the mail. Everyone loves to get mail, and who more than a young child? Send packages, cards, and letters for every holiday – and for no reason at all. Also remember – for young children, money is not nearly as exciting or special as something they can touch and experience. Don’t just send a check, send stickers, balloons, or small toys.

Take lots of pictures. Send them by email, or print them and make a scrapbook. Make a memory book of special times you have with your grandchild. Put together a photo album of special family places or events. You can never have too many pictures.

Write down family stories. Your grandchildren want to know more about you, because they are learning about their own heritage and identity. Tell them about your childhood, and about your parents and grandparents. Be sure to also share your favorite memories about their own parents’ childhood.

Build a family tree. Let your child know how they fit into the family. Give them a visual picture of where they come from and the heritage they have.

Your grandchildren need you. Sometimes the miles between you make it feel like your input is not needed or even wanted by your grandchildren. You have to believe that this is not true. They need you whether they know it or not. And most likely, they will treasure a relationship, if you make the effort to take the first steps.

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