When divorce enters a family, everyone is affected. Sometimes the impact on grandparents is overlooked amidst the turmoil involving parents and children. But the affect can be devastating for grandparents who want to help and also stay in the lives of the children they love.
Grandparents often ask me, “How do I help and stay close to my grandkids when we are geographically separated?”
You do that by maintaining and strengthening the relationship you already have. Here are some ways you can stay in the lives of your grandchildren despite the distance between you.
- Create a special Journal of activities that you can share with your grandchildren. This might take the form of a travelogue of places you’ve explored, people you’ve visited, movies you saw and other activities you’ve participated in. You can send them souvenirs from each place as something to show and talk about on your next phone call or video visit. These may include restaurant menus, movie ticket stubs, tee shirts, colorful brochures, post-cards, hats, pens, etc.
- Request that your grandkids send you a story about places they visited, parties they attended, school trips, weekend activities or other “”
- Send an email or text message “of the week” to the kids with a theme: such as the Staying Warm Tip of the Week, Favorite Meal or Dessert of the Week, Pet Trick of the Week, quote from a Favorite Book you’re both reading that week, Joke of the Week, etc. – just to keep in touch.
- Volunteer your time at a hospital, toy or food distribution drive or other event to help needy children in your community so you feel valued while interacting with and bringing joy to other children. Then tell the grandchildren about your activities.
- Make plans to see the same movie as your grandkids on the same day and then schedule a call to discuss the movie together and share the experience in your own way.
- Read the same chapters of a book so you have scheduled calls planned in which you discuss the characters and share your opinions about their situations.
- Make a weekly or monthly video catching up on your life to send to the grandkids. Nothing fancy required. Have things to show on the video such as playing with your dog, new shoes you’ve bought, a new recipe you’ve tried, a new flower you’ve planted in the garden, etc.
Consistency, flexibility and unconditional love go a long way toward strengthening your bond with your grandchildren. Be there for them. Be understanding when they don’t always respond in the ways you desire or expect. Be aware of the transitions children make as they age and enter different stages of growth and interests. Take advantage of all the blessings today’s technology provides for maintaining communication – and keep your relationship with your grandkids thriving throughout their lives!