Long-Distance Love, Grandparent Style

BY RANDAL C. HILL

Sunday, Sept. 9, is National Grandparents Day in the U.S. It’s a way to honor grandparents for the role they play in helping children feel loved, worthy and secure on their journeys to adulthood. When those grands live far away, though, get together’s can be harder. But they can be accomplished, and successfully. Technology especially has made it easier to build a long-distance relationship.

Let’s consider some cool ways—both techy and non-techy—to bridge those
miles.

Skype
This web video-calling service allows you and your grandkids to see as well as talk with one another on the computer. While a Skype image doesn’t replace a warm hug or a snuggle, this technical marvel can help create an enjoyable and intimate sense of continuity between actual visits. It’s a great way to read books to your                                                                                                      grandchildren too.                                                                                                              

Emails
Make emails more fun with riddles, puzzles or crosswords. Attach age appropriate
items that are entertaining, informative and encourage back-and-forth conversations.

Starting an “email tale” is another way to keep those interactions upbeat. Create
the beginning of a story and ask your grandchild to add on to it by sending back a
few sentences or a page or two. Keep the never-ending tale going back and forth,
discussing each segment with interest, humor and enthusiasm.
Phone calls
Schedule a regular time for calls, and make sure it doesn’t interfere with other
activities. You’re in competition with friends (especially with older grandkids),
games, phones, school functions, TV and family outings. Most important: never,
ever forget the appointed time.

“Snail Mail”
Kids love to get mail. Make your letter
a delightful one by including some age appropriate jokes or riddles.

Buy blank postcards, address them to

yourself, stamp them and send them off in a letter. Encourage grandchildren to write or draw on the face of the card and mail it back on a regular basis. Keep the returned cards for sharing on your next (physical) visit.

Sending a birthday card each year is a “no brainer,” but imagine your grand’s

reaction if he or she got a card for each year of his or her age. (If your grandkid is
4, send four cards. If 8, send eight. You get the picture.) Your local dollar store is a great resource. And throw in a special homemade card from time to time.

In addition to the occasional surprise book (find out what your grands like

to read), send along simple and inexpensive but useful gifts now and then. Art
supplies, journals and sketch pads will put a smile on any grandchild’s face.
Encourage him or her to send finished works to you.

Texts
Older grands (10 and up) usually appreciate loving text messages (as long as they’re not too frequent). Always ask a few questions about activities, interests, school experiences, friends, etc., but avoid criticism and unrequested advice.

 

And don’t forget to send…
Cookies! There’s nothing like home-baked cookies from Grandma (or Gramps). Bake cookies that are crisp rather than soft so they don’t fall apart. Cool them first, wrap
each individually then place in a lined container. Consider a quick shipping service so they arrive fresh. Start a recipe collection together which they will treasure for years to come.
Closing caveat
Always remember: time flies. We age. Grandkids grow up
and get involved in life as their worlds expand away from their grandparents
and their parents. Be aware of the limited time you have with your grandchildren.
Spend quality moments with them and leave them with good memories of involved and loving grandparents.

 

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