We live in a mobile society where families sometimes have to move to find work or to keep the job they have. This move can make it more challenging to maintain loving relationships with your adult children and grandchildren, but not impossible. Fortunately many families own computers and cell phones and subscribe to social media sites, making communicating with your family easier and more immediate than depending on the postal service to keep you informed about family activities.
Set aside a regular time to communicate with your family, suggest Erin Bishop and Sara Meitzner, agents with the Kansas State University extension office. You might video conference once a week and let everyone have an opportunity to chat with you. Video calls allow your children and grandchildren to see you as you chat, and the grandkids can show off their latest art projects, a new trophy, demonstrate a new skill or whatever they would show you if they lived close enough for a visit. You might schedule the call at dinnertime to make it seem more like you are sharing a meal together.
Encourage your kids and grandkids to post things to your email account that you don’t want posted on your social media sites. Those posts could include private messages, personal pictures or information about a trip they are planning to make. Private postings can keep your grandkids safe so predators don’t get information that make them a target. Allow Mom and Dad to decide what items can post to social media pages. You might wish each grandchild happy birthday on that special day or respond to posts made on the social media sites.
Remember to use regular mail. You can send packages and gifts through the mail, along with real cards that remind your kids and grandkids that you think of them often. Purchase magazines or other items that indicate you know their favorite hobbies or interests. Encourage them to send you arts and crafts to display on your shelves and brag about to your friends. You can show them your display area when you video conference or with a digital picture in email or on social media.
Arrange for special trips to your house during school breaks and long weekends, suggests "Grandparenting Today," edited by Eleanor Berman. Having the grandkids come gives your kids a break they can use to spend time together working on their relationship. If you want special time with each child, you can have the grandkids come one at a time. Family vacations where you meet at a predetermined location can also work well for many families.
Make crafts to send to the grandkids, suggests Sue Johnson, co-author of “Grandloving: Making Memories with Your Grandchildren.” Print a picture of an event you shared with grandkids on cardboard stock and make it into a puzzle with a note reminding them of the event. Put together collages of family pictures as placemats they can use during the video conference. The personal touch and pictures of events will help your kids and grandkids remember that you are as close as a memory.
Items you will need
- Web camera
- Grandparenting Today; edited by Eleanor Berman; Reader's Digest Association
- Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service Loving Long-Distance -- Families Separated by Distance
- The National Council on Family Relations: Unique Intergenerational Interactions
- Santa Clara University Wellness Center: How to Survive a Long Distance Relationship
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images