September 10, 2009

Long Distance Grandchildren

By Trish Burnett

Long distance relationships with grandchildren can be difficult; but there are ways to build a special relationship in spite of the distance. Try some of these simple ideas for building a stronger relationship with your grandchildren.

Technology – Visit your favorite electronics store or check with your community college for information on some of the technology that is now available. Webcams, Skype, Facebook, and Twitter are all great ways to keep in touch.

Cookies – Plan a special kind of cookies that are just made by grandma (and hopefully grandpa will help too) to be sent for special occasions. Snickerdoodles are a great choice; they taste good, ship well and are fun to say! Ship a batch for special occasions in the child’s life or just for being special. When the child comes to visit have them help with making a batch, so the next time you ship some the child will have fun memories of helping make their special kind of cookie.

Pictures – When you are able to visit in person take as many candid photos as possible. Snap photos at bedtime, breakfast, hugging, laughing, and doing lots of fun things. Monthly or even weekly send the child one of the photos and follow-up with a phone call to reminisce about what you were doing together in the photo. A “hug” photo is a great reminder at the end of each phone call. Remember to take lots of photos in between the child’s visit so they have constant reminders of grandma and grandpa.

Take photos of the child’s room, favorite outfits, toys, and hobbies. Gift giving becomes more special when you can add something that matches the child’s room, or select favorite colors for a new outfit. Remind the child’s parents to keep you updated on changes to the child’s room and color/toy/sport preferences.

Special saying or name – Create a special pet name or sign-off comment to use at the end of each phone conversation. Again you are creating a special reminder of who you are.

Interests – Learn more about the special interests of the child. If they are playing soccer or in a T-ball league – attend a local game where you are to learn more about the sport, it will make for livelier conversations because you can ask the child specific questions about their involvement.

Packages – Whenever you send a package line the inside of the box with photo montages. Print a variety of digital photos in different sizes and tape on the sides, bottom and inside of the box lid. The child will have fun enjoying all of the different photos and you know that the box was completely emptied!

It is possible to have a strong relationship with your grandchildren regardless of how far away they live. Frequent contact and making special rituals will help build strong bonds.