Being A Long-distance Grandparent

Grandparents are important. Having lived through all the main stages of life, their experience gives them knowledge and wisdom to impart to the rest of your family. 

For grandchildren, they become role models and offer a unique perspective on life. What’s more, they are the historians of the culture, beliefs and values of your family.

Children who spend regular time with grandparents grow up to be more balanced, with better social skills and less behavioural problems, especially those living in single parent households where, often, one or both grandparents play a greater role in childcare. In families where parents have separated, children will more than likely see grandparents as confidantes. Even for teenagers a grandparent could be the most important person outside immediate family. What is clear is that these intergenerational bonds are critical to child development.

According to Susan Bosak, author of How To Build The Grandma Connection, “Love is the number one ingredient that children need to develop their full potential and, unlike busy multi-tasking parents, grandparents can often provide more undivided, non-judgemental attention. This not only helps build self-esteem, but makes it possible for children to become more independent, learn to take the initiative and build confidence.”

In modern times, grandchildren often live great distances from their grandparents – across the country or even in a different part of the world, but staying in touch isn’t as difficult as it used to be.

  • Budget airlines mean it’s easier than ever to visit distant grandparents (and vice versa). Perhaps they can visit you during Diwali or Christmas or other important occasions and you can visit them during the summer holiday. When your children are old enough, they can also travel to stay with their grandparents on their own.
  • Why not plan a holiday in which you meet grandparents at the same destination? That doesn’t mean you have to share the same accommodation, but it offers a real opportunity for the grandparents to spend quality time with the children while you can grab some time alone with your partner.
  • Talking on the phone is great, but with a PC or tablet device, a broadband connection and a video-messaging app, face-to-face communication means grandparents can actually see their grandchildren growing up. Best of all, many video calling applications, such as Skype, cost nothing to use.
  • Stay in touch with instant messaging, Facebook, or another social networking app, as well as online cards, photo sharing and scrap albums. Children are often better with new technology than their grandparents, so they can feel good about sharing some of their knowledge too.
  • Don’t forget mail. Grandparents love to receive letters and gifts by the regular postal service, especially photos, hand drawings or crafts. It’s doesn’t even have to be a special occasion. Sending a surprise card or gift is one of the most heart-warming ways to show someone you care.

You only have to hear your children asking when they will see their grandparents again to know just how much they care for them. In all likelihood, one day you will be a grandparent yourself. Then it will be your turn to take on the role of family historian and mentor. Now isn’t that something to look forward to in your later years?

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