Connecting with Grandparents

Here are five ways that you can encourage your children to connect with their grandparents regardless of how far or close they live to you.


Set up a Date

Although babysitting grandchildren is a way to spend time together, it is also important for children to spend time with their grandparents on other occasions. For grandparents who live close by, set up a regular time each week or month for your kids to spend time with them. Ross invites her grandkids to stay with her for a week and calls it “Camp Grandma.” During the visit, she makes the week all about the grandchild. She also comes to visit at least every two months and calls twice a week. For grandparents who live in another city, you can also set up a phone date at the same time each week. Sharon Schwinger, mom of three, uses Skype for free video calls over the Internet when her children talk to their grandparents in New Jersey.



Write Letters

While technology is a wonderful tool to keep in touch, writing letters is a very personal way of communicating. Many people send email regularly, but handwritten letters are special and more likely to be saved for years to come. Have your children and their grand-parents pick out a journal together and take turns writing their thoughts in it. Encourage them to write stories about their lives, share memories of each other, and ask each other questions. For long-distance grandparents, take turns writing in the journal and mail the book back and forth to each other.


Share a Book

Books are a great way to connect generations, and many classics are still loved by children today. For younger children, encourage the grandparent to read one of their favorite picture books to them. An option for grandparents who live in another town is to make a video recording of them reading a book to your child. They can either send the file to you or upload it to YouTube or similar video-sharing site. If they are unfamiliar with the technology, you can set up the tools for them on your next visit. While your child is watching the video, have her follow along with her own copy of the same book. If your child is reading chapter books, have her grandparents read the same book that she is reading. Encourage them to talk about the book after they have both finished. Once they have finished, have the grandparent pick out the next book to read together.



Use Technology to Communicate

If you have teenagers, think about how your child likes to communicate with his friends. Encourage your child to communicate with his grandparents using text or instant messaging and, if necessary, show the grandparents how to send a text or set up a chat. Julie Shiley’s teenager, Allie, uses Facebook to keep in touch with her grandparents. For grandparents who live far away, consider setting up a webcam, which costs around $30 to $40, so that your children can have a video conference with their grandparents. “I feel that we have stayed connected by using the webcam, and I am no more than a phone call and picture away,” says Ross.



Start a Hobby or Project Together

Another way for grandparents and grandchildren to connect is to share a hobby or activity. Encourage the grandparent to take an interest in your child’s hobbies. If the grandparent has a hobby, such as fishing or sewing, have them introduce your child to the hobby. Another idea is for the pair to complete a project together, such as starting a garden or a building a birdhouse. For grandparents living far away, pick a project that they can do during a visit and then talk about while they are apart. “I want my grandkids to have a sense of growing up with family. I was not fortunate to have my grandparents for long; we are the ones that now have the time and patience to give the children our undivided attention,” says Ross.