Grandparent-grandchild relationships are special. As a grandparent, your life experience and role can positively influence your grandchildren’s lives. On the flip side, grandchildren can bring you a sense of purpose, joy, friendship and fulfillment.
Unfortunately, the busyness of everyday life can get in the way of building relationships with loved ones – factor in living far apart, and it’s all the more difficult. If you live far from your grandchildren, it’s likely that you worry about losing touch with them and missing out on celebrations and important milestones.
Being physically far away from your grandchildren doesn’t mean you can’t be emotionally close, present and supportive. Ensure distance doesn’t get in the way of your relationships with your grandchildren with these tips.
Focus on Effective Communication
Because you’ll likely be communicating with your grandchildren virtually, and a virtual environment can create barriers, you want to practice effective communication.
- Frequent, consistent communication is key. Regular communication is the key to staying in touch, especially when grandparenting at a distance. Schedule times to catch up in advance to avoid letting too much time pass between conversations. Be sure to speak with your adult children, their parents, before doing so.
- Take note of their interests. Knowing someone’s interests is part of relationship building. Take mental notes of their hobbies, favorite school subjects and extracurricular activities. Share your own hobbies and offer advice or insight on the interests you have in common. Utilize a cheat sheet if you’d like – this can be especially helpful when it comes to memorizing the names of their teachers, pets and friends.
- Ask open-ended questions. While it’s okay to ask questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no,” ask open-ended questions that start with “who, what, why, when and how.” These kinds of questions are a great way to keep grandchildren engaged in your conversation while encouraging the development of their speech and language skills, imagination and confidence.
- Know their personality. If you come across a game, television show, video clip, article or other piece of content that you think your grandchild will like, save it for your next conversation.
- Have meaningful conversations. Jimmy Carter said it best: “Because grandparents are usually free to love and guide and befriend the young without having to take daily responsibility for them, they can often reach out past pride and fear of failure and close the space between generations.” As you know, child-rearing takes a village, and you have a unique role in your grandchildren’s lives. You can be a voice of reason, a shoulder to lean on and someone to lend an ear when they need it most.
Creative Ideas for Long-Distance Communication
Thankfully, technology has made keeping in touch with family and friends much easier. There are various ways you can stay connected. Texting, phone calls, video calls, social media, emails, messenger apps and handwritten letters are a few of the most popular.
In addition to catching up and sharing interests, use creative ways to bond with your grandchildren.
- Play games. There are plenty of games you can play online or through video calls. Jeopardy, Checkers, Wheel of Fortune, Words with Friends, Roblox, Uno Online and more can be played online. You could also play other games through video calls, such as I Spy, 20 Questions and Charades.
- Read a book together. Choose a book to read together and plan to read it on your calls. Or, read the book on your own and discuss what you’re reading during a weekly call.
- Practice gratitude. Discuss something positive that happened that day or something you are grateful for. Ask them to share the same.
- Share family history. Sharing your family history with your grandchildren is important. You could start a family history project together and build your family tree. Spend time researching stories, learning about your family together and sharing any stories you have of your own.
- Share fun facts. Choose a random subject and research some fun facts to learn more about the topic together.
Connect With Your Peers at Oak Trace
While building relationships with your grandchildren is important, you should also make time to form meaningful connections with your community. These friendships can help you navigate the changes that come with retirement and are important in reducing loneliness and improving your sense of well-being.
From exciting events to enriching services and amenities, and more, at Oak Trace, it’s our priority to create a community that helps seniors forge strong friendships and chart a fulfilling retirement path. Plus, our location in Downers Grove, Illinois, means you’ll have plenty to do to make special memories when your grandchildren come to visit.
Contact us today to explore what life could look like for you at our senior living community.