Family – we love them and, despite the miles that may lie between us, we can’t live without them. In our article A Guide to Staying Connected to Family Overseas During the Holiday Season, we gave suggestions on how separated loved ones could continually keep in touch. However, there’s a particular relationship that perhaps deserves special attention, the bond between your children and their grandparents.
You may or may not be surprised to learn that, as reported by AARP, 66% of all grandparents live more than a day’s drive from their grandchildren. Facebook is clearly not an effective option for your younger children and, with the holidays right around the corner, we thought we’d provide some fun ideas on how you can help grow a beautiful, meaningful relationship between these generations.
Structured Video Chat
Two adults may be able to discuss their lives, the news and passions for hours on end, but children grow can grow easily bored, especially when the gap in years prevents the participants from connecting on certain interests. Therefore, help your children and your adult parents have a preset activity over which they can bond when video chatting. Perhaps have Grandma read different picture book to the little ones, or have Grandpa recount boyhood tales. Give your parents some insights into what your children are learning in school or are currently enthused by so the grandparents can have some questions prepared in case there are long stretches of awkward silence.
Children may not immediately connect that the voice on the phone is the grandparents they know and love, so make sure to have a photograph of your adult parents near the phone whenever the two generations talk. The visual will help your kids to put two-and-two together. Furthermore, it’s wise to make the calls routine; you can find an opportune time that doesn’t interfere with anyone’s schedule or is right before bedtime when either your kids or senior parents may be sleepy. By having a fixed schedule, your younglings won’t be fixated on what television shows they could be watching instead, and the hustle and bustle of life is less likely to distract you from communicating with your faraway family.
Encourage Your Kids to Get Creative
Most likely, your children are frequently doing arts and crafts at school or inside the home. Why not ask them to create something for grandma and grandpa? Ask them to illustrate a cherished memory of the generations spending time together, helping to keep the recollections alive. Send an assortment of goodies for the holidays (or out of the blue), and make sure to include copies of the artwork; your aging parents will undoubtedly be touched that they are consistently apart of their grandkids’ lives, regardless of the distance. Plus, as your parents fawn over the artwork in the next Skype session, your little ones may feel particularly proud and encouraged to continue creating gifts on their own.
Being apart from your ageing parents can also take an emotional toll on you as well, especially if your parents have a history of health issues. For your own peace of mind, below are some quick tips to making sure that they’re safe and healthy regardless of the miles between you and them.
Depending on your parent’s current capabilities, consider hiring an at-home aid or asking a nearby friend to check in on your parents on a semi-regular basis. These helpful individuals will not only be able to assist your mom or dad with small tasks around the home, but also check in with you about how they’re physically faring.
Have your parents enlist in a service like Meals on Wheels service so you can have the reassurance that they’re regularly receiving nutritious food.
Encourage your parents to obtain a medical alert system that they can wear around their necks or wrists; with a single push of a button, they can receive immediate help, regardless of whether you are in the next room or thousands of miles away. Even if the device is never activated, you’ll be able to sleep better at night.
Have any suggestions on how you and your children can nurture relationships with your stateside parents? Share your experiences with us!
Photo by Andy Dean Photography