Long Distance Grandparenting

The traditional notion of Grandparenting, the chocolate-box image we all have, involves close contact, valuable time spent together doing the kinds of things children love to do – playing, laughing, learning…

In reality, it is becoming more and more common for grandparents and grandchildren to live far from one another. This is difficult for everyone concerned; the grandparents miss out on the children’s development, the parents miss their help and guidance, and the children lose valuable contact with family members who have so much to offer them. There is a danger of families becoming isolated and missing out on so much support and love. There are ways to overcome the problems distance can cause. Children love spending time with grandparents as they indulge them, giving them that special kind of loving attention which grannies and granddads do so well.

Mail is a fantastic way to keep in touch with children, who love to draw and write and relish the excitement of sending and receiving post. Sending letters, photographs and the occasional little gift allows the grandparent to have a real presence in the child’s life. If possible, investing in a phone service provider which offers free calls between the homes can be a fantastic way of keeping in touch in a relaxed way. Grandparents can read stories and chat to the children, and the children can have a certain amount of freedom in being able to call the grandparents when they feel the need. More modern ways can include using the Internet, web-cams can provide valuable face to face contact between families who are separated by distance and are fun and accessible for children.

The parents need to maintain good ties with the grandparents too, and talking about them as often as possible – giving them importance and a real presence in the home. Visits are wonderful but not always possible and so it is crucial that the presence of the grandparents is made real in the child’s life in a fun and engaging way so that when visits are possible, less time is spent getting to know one another and more can be spent having fun and creating valuable memories of good times.