Long distance grandparenting for seniors in Joliet

Some of us remember when elder grandparents lived in the same household with their children and grandchildren. It’s a rarity these days. Today, many families are scattered and separated by distances both great and small. The website GrandParenting.org says that no matter how far grandparents and grandchildren live from one another, there are two things working in their favor that can help to keep their bond alive and well:

First, young children have the ability to expand time. Remember when you were younger how time moved more slowly, and your house seemed enormous? This means the time you spend alone with your grandchild can nourish your grandchild for quite a while.

Second, technology is a marvelous asset in helping to encourage emotional connections over distance. True, technology can’t go fishing with a grandchild or help out a harried parent, but it can be a godsend to foster ongoing communication

In fact, communication is the most indispensable factor in keeping grandparent and grandchild as close as possible no matter how far apart they live. Today, there are lots of ways to communicate.

About.com reminds us that the “old” ways are still extremely meaningful: letters to an individual grandchild, letters with sketches or drawings, photos of yourself, greeting cards, a note with a stick of chewing gum, packages with several small items, or send something hand-made like a birdhouse or quilt. Young kids like the thought more than the content. Just the fact they receive a letter is more important than what is in it.

Technology has given everyone even more options. Lots of kids are computer literate, and now’s the time to have someone show you the ropes of email. There’s also videoconferencing (you can talk with your grandchild real-time, face-to-face). E-Mail, computer games, and the ability to send notes back and forth (or recipes, jokes,) can keep your contact loving and lively. You can even establish your own home page on the world-wide-web.

Faxes can be fun. One grandmother gave all of her grandchildren fax machines so they could keep in touch on a daily basis. Children can fax jokes, report cards, drawings etc. to their grandparents and vice versa. This grandma faxes her grandchildren individual notes several mornings a week.

Telephone contact is important, too. It’s a live voice. But make sure that you call your grandchild alone. Your grandchild wants to feel special and individual. It’s best to call at a regular time when your grandchild is not rushed or a parent is not harried about getting a meal on the table.

Some suggestions from GrandParentsToday.com:

  • Videotape yourself reading a grandchild’s favorite story. If possible, have someone else record you and your spouse, especially on birthdays or other special occasions.
  • Bake and send favorite cookies. Include the recipe, and videotape yourself making the cookies for a personal cooking lesson.
  • For a far-away grandchild’s birthday, buy party hats, favors, balloons, etc. and send them to the grandchild to use at their party.
  • Create a video family history using old slides and pictures. Narrate it or just set it to music. Or create a scrapbook with copies made from the original pictures.
  • Watch a television show or rented movie “together.” For instance, at Christmas, plan to watch It’s a Wonderful Life and share your thoughts via a phone call, letter or e-mail.
  • Have a prearranged time on New Year’s Eve for you and your children and grandchildren to each light a candle and make a special wish for the coming year.
  • Make up a quiz about you and your spouse. It can be a fun way for your grandchildren to get to know you better.

Most importantly, be there when your grandchild is born and be there for the important events; graduations, religious passages, recitals, holidays, whatever events your family values highly. With a little time and ingenuity, connections can be strong and loving in spite of the miles between you.

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