In the United States, 80% of adults aged 65 and older are grandparents. However, being a grandparent looks different for everyone. Some grandparents are heavily involved in their children’s and grandchildren’s lives, while others are not. Distance can significantly affect how close grandkids feel to their grandparents. When you live far from your parents, it can be challenging to help your children feel close to them.
If you’re looking for ways to strengthen familial bonds between your grandparents and their grandchildren, there are things you can do. Here are some of the top ways Elder Care Alliance recommends that you help your kids feel close to their faraway grandparents.
Send Letters and Cards
Letters and cards can be a lot of fun to send and receive. Chances are, your parents are probably already very familiar with this method of communication since it has been around such a long time. And your kids will undoubtedly love checking the mailbox for letters and cards from their grandparents.
When communicating via letters and cards, include current photos whenever possible. Grandparents often love receiving and displaying photographs of their grandchildren. It’s a great way to help them feel like they are a part of everything and watch their grandchildren grow from a distance.
Look at Photos Frequently
It’s easy to forget about someone when you never see them. One great way to help your kids feel more attached to their faraway grandparents is to show them photos of them frequently. That way, they can become familiar with their grandparents’ faces and recognize them when they get the chance to see them in person. The same is true for your grandparents, who may need frequent pictures of their grandkids to recognize them as they grow.
Use FaceTime or Skype to Chat
One of the best ways to maintain familial relationships despite the long distance is through FaceTime or Skype. These applications are the next best thing to talking to grandparents and grandchildren in person. As long as both parties have a solid internet connection, you should be able to see and hear each other clearly, even though you’re many miles apart.
Don’t forget to consider time zone differences when calling grandparents via Skype or FaceTime. If possible, set up predetermined call times to improve your chances of getting through to your family members.
Travel for Important Holidays
It may not be possible to see long-distance grandparents frequently. However, you can always plan for important holidays such as Thanksgiving, birthdays, Christmas or other big events. If possible, save money so you can occasionally drive or fly out to see your grandparents. You might even want to plan a family reunion every year or every other year so the entire family can get together no matter where they may be living.
Provide Frequent Updates
Are your kids taking dance, baseball, or engaging in other notable activities? Make sure you tell your parents about it! Provide your long-distance parents with frequent updates, so they feel involved in the lives of their grandchildren. Be sure to give plenty of notice for important events such as weddings and baptisms so that your parents can make travel arrangements as needed. If they are unable to attend, try to be understanding. Traveling can be physically and emotionally stressful for older adults.