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Long Distance Grandparents
As more and more families find themselves moving far away for jobs, our children can be separated from their grandparents. It’s no secret that many grandparents share a special bond with their grandchildren and to nurture that relationship can be hard if you live hundreds or thousands of miles away. How can you make sure that your children have wonderful fond memories of their grandparents? Is it possible for your in-laws and parents to really know your children if they are not seeing them regularly? It is possible but a modern family has to be creative, by integrating modern technology with family values.
Though many grandparents today are making strides with social media, cell phones and apps, some grandparents don’t know a text from Facetime. This is the time to get on the old fashioned phone and try to walk through with Mom and Dad the importance of having some grasp on technology. Not only would it be cheaper for everyone than a traditional phone call, but it will also allow a hard situation to be easier in the long run.
Some grandparents may find themselves completely lost in technology and may be intimidated by the big change to learn something new. Others may be stubborn to new changes and insist on visits and telephone calls. Instead of getting frustrated, respect that they are overwhelmed with what they have to learn. This list will help you and your parents/ in-laws compromise, in order to keep the family together and thriving.
You are going to have to teach your parents or in-laws either
- On the phone
- Emailing them a YouTube tutorial (they have tutorials for just about anything!) if they are email savvy
- Wait until your next physical visit and give parents a crash course. A little bit of sacrifice will change the family dynamic positively!
Here are the 5 Ways that you can make sure that both your parents and your children stay in touch and have a thriving, positive relationship despite the distance.
Facebook is being used by more and more grandparents every day! Though sometimes they do not completely understand it, sending pictures via private message and being able to see your wall filled with pictures of your kids and little stories about their day. Even if it was “Evan got a perfect score on his spelling test.” Grandparents love the little stories, as they feel that they are a part of your children’s everyday life. They can share these little nuggets of information with their friends and feel like they are not so far away.
Bonus points if you can get your parents to download Facebook Messenger on their cell phone so the information can come right to them, any time of day!
Though nothing beats seeing and being in the presence of a loved one in person, Facetime can check a lot of boxes when it comes to grandparents and grandchildren staying close. Your kids can show grandparents their new room, speak and see their grandparents and your parents can see, speak and share with their grandchildren too. Show grand mom the new hair cut your daughter got, or have your kids ask granddad about his new dog. You get to see and hear the world around them, even if it is for a short period of time.
Scheduling facetime once a week is great too. The whole family can speak to grandparents together and also each child can have some one on one time with their grandparents to nurture those individual relationships. These calls can get long so if it is at all possible, shoot for a weekend morning or evening and do your best to make it a regular thing.
Even if it’s small talk, as mentioned before, both grandparents and grandchildren will thrive knowing little tidbits and nuggets of information about each other. “Grandma painted her bedroom blue” or Kira got the lead in the school play she worked hard for” allows both grandchildren and grandparents to be a part of each other’s day to day story!
Sending a letter? Who does that anymore? Remember, this list is not only about trying all different avenues but respecting each other. Your parents were used to traditional mail which would include pictures, cards and letters. Teaching your children how to fill out an address on an envelope is important, as is making each hand written letter or card special. Children can choose a nice card for their grandparents or a nice letterhead to compose a letter. Keep it simple with what is going on or dive deep into thoughts and feelings. It’s all up to your kids!
Show your children how to purchase a stamp and judge a letter based on weight. Feel free to include photos of the kids or send a care package once or twice a year! Your parents or in-laws will be touched and your kids will just be thrilled to receive their own mail!
Even though some say that traditional mail is out of date, or even obsolete, it is actually one of the most touching simple gestures one could do for another. Keep the tradition of mail alive!
For the tech savvy parent, create a group chat with your family on what’s App. You can share pictures, stories and information with the family and receive information from them as well. Schedule either voice or video calls, send documents or let people know of your location. It’s a fun way to just let your parents and your children know each other’s day to day lives. Share as little or as much information as you want!
Save for that long distance visit
Time off is precious and you can agree, it’s few and far between. Even if you can visit your parents or they can visit you once every couple of years, try to make it happen. IF your parents are very far, like an ocean away, it can be so difficult to imagine flying with children, but it can be done. Secondly, if your parents are healthy and able, they too are welcomed to travel.
If expense is somewhat of an issue for both of you, is there a middle ground where you can both meet? A city or area that can serve an as happy medium. Look into renting a house so everyone can spend some time together and doing some sightseeing and memory making.
No matter how expensive it can be, there is no shame in saving for a trip for five years rather than five months. The fact is that you’re trying. That alone is something to be proud of.
Helping The Long Distance Grandparent Today Will Help You Tomorrow
Sometimes, living far away from the people you care about most is inevitable. Thanks to modern technology and traditional methods, you can keep a beautiful relationship going for your parents and grandchildren. It requires everyone to make little sacrifices for the betterment of the family in general. Your parents and inflows will appreciate the effort. Most of all, your children will grow up to realize the effort you put in. One day, you may be the grandparent wanting to see your grandchildren and your children will be making it work because let’s face it, they had wonderful role models to teach them how make family work!