7 Ways to Connect With a Long Distance Grandchild

By on September 8, 2016
Grandchild

I’ll be honest: I envy grandmothers who float in-and-out of their grandchild’s daily activities. Perhaps you know your grandchild’s friends and are on a first-name basis with his teacher.  You might even attend soccer games and school concerts.  Although there’s undoubtedly a downside to babysitting or living in the same area, that sounds terrific to a long distance grandma like me!

But those of us who are geographically challenged can still have a meaningful relationship with our grandchildren.  Here are seven ideas that work for me:

  1. Develop a list of “topics to talk about.” Dig back through old emails and texts for conversation starters.  The content won’t merely offer discussion-triggers, but often reveal ideas for birthday gifts or items of interest.  This is especially helpful if you rarely see each other. 
  1. Provide prayer cover.  Although you might do this every day, make a special effort when your grandchild is prepping for a big test or important game.  Before the event, pray with him over the phone. Look for more ideas in my new book, Faith Footprints with My Grandchild.
  1. Send postcards of places you visit together. Months after visiting the zoo or museum, mail a card from that site.  Even digital kids appreciate snail mail addressed to them. The card will be a nice reminder of a memory you made together.
  1. Arrange reverse mail. Purchase an inexpensive pack of blank postcards.  Pre-address with your address and add a stamp.  Ask your grandchild to draw a picture, add stickers or write a note before sending the card to you.  Start with just a couple of cards to assess your grandchild’s response.
  1. Invite them into your home. Simply go around the house clicking or shooting a video with your phone.  We’re a visual society, so this gives your grandchild a snapshot of your personal space (Be sure at least one image shows the fireplace with his photo displayed or the refrigerator with a picture he drew!) If your grandchild doesn’t know you well, seeing your kitty or a picture of your car buried in a snow bank helps you become a “real” person.
  1. Mail surprises.  When our grandsons were very young, I would tell their mom a b-o-x was in the mail. One of the first words the boys learned to spell was b-o-x. They soon realized that a package with nice books and inexpensive toys and trinkets was on the way.  Those flat rate USPS boxes must have been developed by a grandma:  regardless of how many heavy books you cram inside, if the box seals, it ships for a fixed rate.
  1. Schedule regular photographs. When our family gathers once a year, we begin the day by going to a mall studio.  Our five grandsons wear the shirts I purchased for them.  We’ve discovered that by using an online coupon and limiting the number of poses purchased, the cost is very reasonable.  You might be miles apart for most of the year, but record any occasion you’re together.

Our children grew up quickly, but our grandchildren seem to grow up even faster. Relationship experts emphasize the value of the grandchild-grandparent connection.  Our digital age has made keeping in touch easier than ever, but living in a mobile society implies many of us lead separate lives.

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Yet each cross-generational experience adds meaning to the family memory bank. Intentionally reaching across the miles can deepen the heart connections and remind us to thank God for the bonus blessing of a grandchild.

Dr. Mary Manz Simon combines her training as an early childhood educator, insights as a corporate consultant and children’s market analyst, and experiences as a mother and grandmother, to provide a wide range of services and presentations to audiences and companies. You can read more about Dr. Manz Simon at her blog

 

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7 Ways to Connect With a Long Distance Grandchild