Grandparents are a wonderful asset in your child’s life. They usually provide the same unconditional love as parents and are eager to participate in their grandchildren’s lives. But when grandparents live far away your children may feel disconnected from them.
Young children learn through repetition and consistency so when grandparents are a sporadic influence, babies, toddlers and preschoolers may not bond and feel comfortable around them. Even if grandparents cannot visit regularly, there are ways to help facilitate a better relationship with grandparents. As the holidays approach and the New Year is upon us, it’s a great time to consider how to foster long distance relationships with grandparents so your children can have a meaningful experience with your parents or in-laws during their lifetimes.
Video Chat: Modern parenting and grand-parenting offers the ability to video chat from virtually anywhere in the world. Take advantage of this technology to speak to and see grandparents often. A video conversation increases bonding because children are extremely visual. Start this routine as early as possible with your baby so she becomes familiar with seeing her grandparents, even if only on screen. If everyone’s schedules are hard to coordinate, set regular video chat times to make sure the calls happen often.
Read Books Together: Reading is a bonding experience that children can share with grandparents from across the miles and at any age. For babies, toddlers and preschoolers, ask grandparents to record themselves reading books. Then you can play them back time and time again for your youngsters to enjoy. Reading can also be done on video calls. For older children, start a grandparent-grandchild book club where they select books together and then call one another to discuss them. This is not only educational but also creates a meaningful emotional connection over a common interest.
Create a Photo Website: Sharing photos is another important way to foster long distance relationships with grandparents. A photo website can help you keep grandparents up-to-speed on everything happening in your kids’ lives. Make a point to upload photos weekly so grandparents get a regular update. Grandparents can share photos from their day-to-day lives too. Photos make a great starting point for conversations as well.
Play Games: For younger children, playing games with long distance grandparents may be relegated to peek-a-boo and funny faces on video chats. But as children get older, you can play fun games online including tic-tac-toe, chess, scrabble, Sudoku and other words and numbers games. You can also play 20-questions via email or on phone calls or come up with a secret code and send private messages back and forth to one another.
Send Care Packages: Grandparents don’t need to spoil your children with tons of gifts but sending a postcard, letter or small meaningful items once in awhile is a great way to engage children with their grandparents. Your kids can also send artwork, letters and small gifts to their grandparents in return.
Share Family Memorabilia: Having a few special items that belong to grandparents or are family heirlooms can help keep the spirit of their presence constant in your home. Designate a spot in your home to keep these items and allow your children to look at them often. Explain their significance as well.
Share a Song: This may seem simple but simplicity can go a long way to foster long distance relationships with grandparents. Encourage your child to pick a favorite song with her grandparents. They can sing it together during calls and visits and you can sing it with her when she’s not with her grandparents to keep them top of mind. She’ll be excited and delighted whenever she hears her special grandparents’ song.
We hope your children foster long distance relationships with grandparents so every generation in your family can bond, share and spread love. Happy Holidays!
Sources: Grandparents.com, Health Day and Psychology Today
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