How to be Loving and Close as a Long-Distance Grandparent

There are over 70 million grandparents in the U.S. today, and a large percentage of these live in different towns and cities than their grandchildren. But thanks to today’s technology, long-distance grandparents can stay in touch with grandkids more easily than ever before.

Staying Close is Important

In previous generations, men and women often married someone from their hometown and moved a few miles away. That’s often not how it happens these days, however. People today relocate much more—education and jobs pull families all over the country (or world!) As a result, families are more fragmented than ever, and it’s not uncommon for grandparents to live hundreds or thousands of miles apart from their kids and grandkids.

It’s important to make the effort to stay close, however, even when you’re far away. Grandparents pay a meaningful role in children’s lives and are important to their grandchildren whether they live nearby or not. Grandparents are often a welcome source of unconditional love. And grandchildren definitely have a special place in their hearts for grandparents!

The good news is that psychological research shows that lifelong attachments between grandparents and grandchildren can form even with relatively short periods of physical contact.

Things to Help You with Long-Distance Grandparenting

There are steps you can take to ensure that you stay close to your grandchildren, even when you’re far away.

To Put It Simply: Technology, Technology, Technology

If this isn’t your thing, then try to make it your thing! The truth is, nothing is going to help you stay in touch with far-away grandchildren like today’s technology.

The contact you have with your grandchildren will greatly improve if you’re willing to use texting, Facetime, or Skype. Don’t know how to use these? Don’t worry – the kids will show you how! (Or their parents will.) Kids love to be the “expert” in something for the adults in their lives, so if they’re old enough—and it doesn’t have to be very old—ask them to show you how to use these various communication methods. This will open all sorts of doors for you to keep in touch.

Video chat (or Skype) is an amazing tool for communicating across the miles. Although it won’t completely take the place of hugs and kisses, face-to-face visiting is the next best thing. Through Skype, you can watch the grandkids grow up, week by week. Then when you’re able to visit, you won’t seem like a stranger to them since you have been visiting regularly over video.

Plus, there are things you can do over video that you just can’t do as well on a phone call. One thing you can do is to buy two copies of a book. Send one to your grandchild and keep the other. Then when you video chat you can read the book together!

Make a Point to Visit When You Can

Yes, it’s a pain to fly these days, and jet lag makes you tired, and travelling is expensive, and so on, but if you can get to your grandchildren for a visit, try to make the time and commitment to do that. They’ll always remember your visits.

Take Them on a Trip

Research shows that grandchildren bond best with grandparents when they get to spend one-on-one time with them. If possible, spend time with one grandchild separately sometimes. If you can take a weekend trip with one grandchild at a time, you’ll form lifetime memories for them.

Invite Them to Stay with You

When they get old enough, see if you can have the grandchildren visit without their parents for a short visit. This will give you some time to spend with your grandkids while giving their parents a much-appreciated break from the kids for a few days. It’s a win/win for everyone!

Be There for the Important Events

When possible, try to be there for the important events in your grandchild’s life—graduations, religious passages, recitals, holidays, etc. You probably can’t make all of them, but try to get to the ones you can. They’ll appreciate that you were there.

The Most Important Thing: Ongoing Communication

Research shows that bonds between grandparents and grandchildren form best when they have regular, ongoing communication. This doesn’t have to be daily, but if you can talk weekly or so with your grandchildren, they will feel more in touch with you.

You’re Still a Part of Your Grandkid’s Lives, Even Far Away

Many grandparents today are long-distance grandparents. But you can still stay close by learning some new technology skills (if you need to) and by making a commitment to stay in touch with your grandkids.

Always remember that no matter how far apart they live, kids love their grandparents!