Many seniors consider grandchildren a benefit of getting older. They now have the ability to bond with a young member of their family without having to be the disciplinarian, and instead can focus on building a relationship. If you live a long distance from your children, maintaining a close relationship with grandchildren can be tricky.
In order to build and keep a long distance relationship with your grandchildren, you should take a multi layered approach. Technology, coupled with old fashioned visits and mail can allow you to get to know the individuals that are your grandchildren.
To begin, talk with your children about the role you want to play in your grandchildren’s lives. If you appear interested in the day to day pieces of their lives, your children are more likely to talk about these things with you. Your children will also be good resources in telling you the likes and dislikes of your young grandchildren.
First, try to visit as early and often as possible. When your own children are having children, it can be a source of joy and upheaval in their lives. Offer advice if asked and find out when you can visit after the child is born. Those first few years of life are very precious and will give you a chance to bond with your child.
As your grandchild grows, he will love to use the telephone. Get a good long distance plan and call often. At first, young children may only talk a few minutes, but as they become more comfortable with the phone and you, they will be more talkative. As the grandparent, be proactive by asking when are appropriate times to call.
As the child gets older, consider sending a long distance calling card so he can call you. Older grandchildren may prefer this, especially as their schedule becomes more complicated. Make sure someone teaches them how to use the long distance card if they are younger.
Email is a good way of communicating with older grandchildren. Seniors may not be net savvy, but do not let this stop you. Look at your local senior center for computer classes. When you’ve mastered the technology, keep in mind that short, often emails are better than long and infrequent ones.
Do not forget that regular mail can be a great treat to send and receive. Children seldom get mail, a card from you or even a letter can be a treat. Consider looking for odd envelopes and papers to make your letters even more exciting.
Photographs, no matter whether you are using email or mail, can be a valuable communication tool. Do not make the mistake of not sending some pictures of your own. Consider scanning and sending pictures of yourself at their age if you have them.
Recent pictures are also a good thing to exchange. Digital cameras make photographs easy to take and cheap to send. Take advantage of this technology, and encourage your long distance grandchildren to send pictures as often as possible.
No matter how old your grandchildren are, building a relationship with them is dependent on the grandparent seeing them as individuals. Take the time to learn about interests and hobbies. When they are younger, it will be easier, many children have a favorite character or love a certain type of toy. Older children can articulate their interests if you ask the right questions.
Being a long distance grandparent can be difficult, but is often rewarding. You have the ability to give special attention to them without the stresses of a job or young children of your own. Take the time for some early planning and you can build a relationship with your grandchildren that will be strong over a lifetime.