5 Tips for Long Distance Grandparent Relationships
How to Bond with Long Distance Grandkids
Feeling a connection with your grandkids generally comes naturally, but this inherent bond is challenged when miles or oceans separate you. Grandparents who live far away may struggle to be a part of their grandkids lives when visiting every week or attending regular gatherings isn’t possible. Develop a special bond with your long-distance grandkids by coming up with creative ways to spend one-on-one time with them, using technology to stay in touch, and making them a part of your daily life.
Dividing Your Time with Multiple Grandchildren
Connect with grandchildren based on their interests.Rather than trying to force conversation with a shy grandchild or playing sports with one who’s uncoordinated, maximize success by playing to their interests. Figure out what each grandchild enjoys and use that to strengthen your bond with them.
- Use both face-to-face and long-distance check-ins to focus on their individual hobbies, passions, and talents. This allows you to recognize and appreciate the differences between each grandchild.
- Ensure regular face-to-face time, even if it’s through the use of technology. This is especially important in their early years. The more bonding you have in their formative years, the easier it will be for them to willingly look for those special moments when you can connect with them and give them loving attention later on.
- Just like parenting, being a grandparent is not one-size-fits-all. Trying to do the same thing with each kid won’t make them feel connected to you. Instead, show them that you are aware of what makes them unique. If you have a granddaughter who does ballet, take her to a show when you’re in town and send her videos of professional dancers.
Set aside special time for each child during visits.Spending time with everyone at once is not only overwhelming but it doesn’t do justice for each child. Of course, some events like seeing a film or going on a vacation may require that everyone is in attendance. Otherwise, schedule an hour or two with each grandchild each time they visit you or vice versa.
- One-on-one time offers you the best opportunity to develop and strengthen the bond you have with your grandchildren. Again, use the time to focus on each child’s passions. See a basketball game with a sports fan, or go to the botanical garden with the nature lover.
Try not to play favorites.There’s nothing that disconnects you from your grandchildren like favoring one over the others. While it may feel difficult not to spoil Little Henry who looks just like you, avoid it at all costs. Showing favoritism not only makes the other children dislike the favorite, but they also may develop negative feelings towards you in the process.
- Treat all your grandchildren fairly. This problem is eliminated when you dedicate special time to focus on each child individually and are sure to focus on their interests. When they feel like Grandma or Grandpa provided them with quality time, they are less likely to care what you did with or for the others.
Communicating from Afar
Track the progress of younger grandchildren with technology.The digital age makes it much easier for grandparents to form and maintain attachments with grandchildren over long distances. Even if you have one who is a newborn and unable to answer a phone call, you can still keep tabs on their growth and development.
- When it comes to developing a bond with very young grandchildren, the answer lies in staying in touch with their parents. Ask your son or daughter to include the ultrasound in an email or text message. If you can’t travel for the live birth, have someone record key parts of it so you’re able to observe from afar.
- In addition, talking on the phone or videoconferencing can help you hear cries from infant grandchildren. To note how fast they’re growing, request that your children complete a monthly shot of each young child. Recording first words and steps on video is also another way for you to be kept abreast of growing grandkids.
Schedule regular video conferencing.If you are just itching to hear their little (or big) voices each week, have your kids carve out a window when the whole family is available to do videoconferencing. There are a range of services out there like Skype or Google Hangouts that allow you to make live video calls. Endless possibilities await with this kind of technology: watch movies together, read books, listen to music, or cook the same recipe for dinner.
- To connect in this way, you need a smart phone or a computer with a webcam and speakers. If you have trouble with technology, suggest that your older grandchildren teach you how to set up or use your equipment. Adolescents today are quite tech-savvy!
Send letters and care packages.Keeping in touch doesn’t have to be elaborate. Old-fashioned letters can be just what your grandchildren need to stay in touch, and sending a response can help little ones perfect their handwriting skills. Care packages can be sent with the letters or separately, too. Include special treats, pictures of your life, birthday cards, little gifts, and even home-baked goods.
Send emails or texts.A simple text message to say “I hope you have a good week at school” might lift a teenage grandchild’s spirits. On the other hand, you can ask your children to scan and email copies of report cards and hand-drawn pictures for you to stay updated on how your grandchildren are performing in school or at home.
Including Them in Your Life
Play games.Every family enjoys letting off a little steam with a fun board or card game. You may not be in the same room with your grandchildren, but many traditional games can now be played online. Through your computer, smart phone, or tablet you can connect with your grandchildren and choose from a wide selection of games like word puzzles, trivia games, picture games, mystery games, chess, checkers, sports games, and more.
Use your travels to connect.Make your grandkids feel like they are right there with you as you venture out during your retirement. If you are a wandering grandparent, send back postcards, souvenirs, or unique food items from your travels.
- You can also arrange to take a trip with your grandchildren to introduce them to new cultures near and far and make unforgettable memories in the process. Depending on how young they are, it might be better if the parents came along to help with their care.
Teach them a new skill.Are you a jack-of-all-trades? Dust off your instruction manuals and help your grandkids learn a skill you cherish. If you live in a foreign country, it might be practical to get them started learning the dominant language in your area. Then again, you could teach them to hunt, sew, cook, paint, or play guitar.
Video: Experts say close relationship with grandparents benefits grandchildren
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