Until the last century, the family norm was that adult children married local sweethearts and remained local. They set up their own homes in the same town or county as their parents.
But all that’s changed. Kids go away to college and meet and marry others from far-flung places. Employers transfer employees across the country and new opportunities are found across the globe. And your adult children take your grandchildren with them.So how do you establish and develop your relationship with grandchildren when you're long distance grandparenting? You work for it. Click To TweetSo how do you establish and develop your relationship with grandchildren when you’re long distance grandparenting? You work for it. Here are the best ideas to keep those precious ones close to your heart – and you to theirs.
Naturally, the list of things babies can’t do greatly exceeds the list of things they can. Temper your expectations appropriately. There are really only three meaningful things you can do for them at this stage.
First, if their parents are struggling, do what you can to help provide for your grandchild’s needs.
Second, pray for that precious baby. Ask God for the specific provision of developmental growth in body and soul.
Thirdly, spend a minute or two video-chatting with the little one. One or two minutes can seem an eternity “talking” to a minimally-responsive infant, but it gets them used to your voice and presence.
Help Them Help You
Preschoolers aren’t that much ahead of babies when it comes to communicating on the phone. A lot of their words only their parents understand. And when they are able to enunciate correctly, they get shy or distracted or cranky. So help the litter fellers out. Here are two simple ideas.
Get several plain postcards. Stamp and self-address them and ship them to your grandchild so they can draw you pictures and sign their name. Their parents can set them to the task and remind them who they’re “writing” to.
Also, remember how frighteningly savvy even young kids are with technology. You can send them a small digital camera (buy a used one online) and ask them to take pictures of their surroundings and activities that can be upload to a computer and shared with you. Receiving a drawing or pictures from them will give you something to talk about when you video chat.
Be Tangible To Them
You don’t want to be out of sight, out of mind. Give them a framed 5 X 7 picture of you (including Grandpa) to keep in their home. Update it occasionally so they don’t forget what you look like. Another way to be tangible is with cards or letters via snail mail. Kids love to get things from the mailbox addressed to them. And unlike a verbal conversation, they’ll have written words to remember what you said.
Of course, the best way to be tangible is to show up. Be there as often as you’re able. They’ll remember it.
Make An Attempt At Cool
Engage with your pre-teen and older grandchild on their turf. Play online games with them. Develop an interest in their passion and share books/videos on the subject. If they’re allowed access, become a social media follower of theirs and engage there. (Warning: Do NOT embarrass them on social media or you will be dropped like a bad habit.)
Stay In Their Head
Kids quickly forget the material gifts that we give them. So give them memories instead. Gift them with experiences versus presents in a box.
When you do get to spend time with your grandchild, teach them something you know how to do or take them for a special outing they would enjoy. You can get extra mileage out of this if you plan what you’ll do in advance so they can also spend time looking forward to the activity.
And take plenty of pictures of your time together. Kids love posing for selfies! When you get back to your house, upload your pictures and make a photo book at one of the online DIY book sites. (Like Shutterfly.) Send it to your grandchild so they’ll have something to treasure of the time spent with you. And here’s a pro tip: order 2 copies so you have a treasure too. It’ll help soothe the ache of long-distance grandparenting.
You’ll also want to read 5 Ingenious Tips To Become The Favorite Grandparent