One of the best gifts you can give your kids' grandparents this
year for Grandparents Day (Sept. 12) is to encourage a close
relationship with your kids. Kids enjoy having a connection to your
family history through grandparents and will benefit from having an
adult to talk to who loves them but is not entrenched in the
day-to-day tasks of parenting.
Here are five ways 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 baby-sitting grandchildren is a
good way to spend time together, it is also important for children
to spend time with their grandchildren 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. This establishes a
relationship and memories distinct from you and other siblings. The
date can be for a few hours after school or for a sleepover on the
weekend. By setting a regular schedule, such as the first Saturday
of the month or every other Wednesday, this special time together
is less likely to get overlooked. If your child's grandparents live
long distance, try to set up a date for your child to spend time
alone with a grandparent during visits.
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, teach Grandpa how to
send a text or set up a chat. By using your child's favorite
technology, she will be more likely to share things in a
spontaneous way and enjoy talking with her grandparents.
For grandparents who live long distance, consider setting
up a webcam so your child can have a video conference with their
grandparents. Both you and your child's grandparent will need a
basic webcam that can be purchased for $30-$40. Your child can see
Grandma on the computer screen and the grandparents will enjoy
being able to view the child's expressions and how much they have
Write letters to each other. While technology is a
wonderful tool to keep in touch, writing letters to each other is a
very personal way of communicating. While many people send e-mail
regularly, handwritten letters are special and more likely to be
saved for years.
Have your child and their grandparents pick out a journal
together and take turns writing their thoughts in it. Encourage
them to write stories about their life, share memories of each
other and ask each other questions. For long-distance grandparents,
take turns writing in the journal and mail the book to each other.
If a journal mailing is an obstacle, have your child and his
grandparents write letters to each other and store the letters in a
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 your child one of their
favorite picture books. An option for grandparents who live in
another town is to make a digital video recording of them reading a
book to your child. They can either send the file to you or put the
video on a sharing website such as YouTube. 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 ask her
grandparents to read the same book she is reading. Encourage
talking about the book after they have both finished. Once they
have finished with the book, have the grandparent pick out a book
to read together next.
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 and have the child teach the grandparent about
things she is interested in. If the grandparent has a hobby, such
as fishing or sewing, have them introduce your child to the hobby.
In addition to being a fun way to spend time together, this is a
great way to pass family traditions and memories to the next
Another idea is for the pair to complete a project
together, such as starting a garden together or building a
birdhouse. For grandparents living far away, pick a project they
can do during a visit and talk about while they are apart.
Encourage your child's grandparent to pick a project that is age
appropriate for your child.
As your child begins to develop a close bond with his
grandparents, be sure to step back and let the relationship
flourish. As they become closer, your child and their grandparents
will start coming up with their own ideas for activities to share
Jennifer Gregory is a mom of two. Her mother-in-law has a weekly
date with each of her kids where they enjoy cooking and playing
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