When grandparents and their grandchildren live near each other getting together for birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions is a fairly simple and commonplace occurrence. When families are separated by the miles, though, grandparents who wish to stay involved must make special efforts to acknowledge important events in the lives of their grandkids.
One of the biggest worries that distant grandparents have is a concern that they will have trouble forming and maintaining close bonds with their grandkids. Children grow and change so quickly that unless the adults in their lives keep in touch, the kid you knew last year is likely to be completely different this year.
As kids mature, their interests often change, so the soccer star may have morphed into a music aficionado, excelling at the violin.
Grandparents who keep in contact all year long will be able to keep up with the many changes in their grandchildren’s lives, allowing them to feel connected, even if it has been quite a while since the generations were face to face.
Phone call, letter writing, emails, and even sending audio tapes back and forth can help grandparents remain close and connected to their grandkids between special occasions.
Establishing Family Traditions
Kids thrive on routine and will quickly learn to anticipate contact from their grandparents on specific occasions once a pattern has been established. In addition to birthdays, holidays, and other special days such as graduations or the last day of a child’s sport season, families can create their own unique “holidays.”
Popularly known special occasions don’t always provide families with enough celebration days, so grandparents may want to declare the first day of every month to be “Grand Day” or make a habit out of contacting each grandchild once a month on the date that they were born.
For example, a child who was born on June 12 can learn to expect a call, card, or email from the grandparents on the 12th of every month.
These types of efforts are sure to pay off through the years by helping grandkids to feel a closeness to their grandparents, even if they get to visit with them only occasionally.
Gift giving is always appreciated, but selecting things for children need not break the budget. Oftentimes, children enjoy small, inexpensive gifts as much or more than enormously pricey ones.
What matters most is taking the time to show a child that they are remembered and loved, which doesn’t take much money, but it does take some thought.
Knowing the child’s favourites — colour, TV show, athlete, song, movie, book — and keeping up to date about their interests and hobbies can help a great deal in choosing gifts for kids.
Little notepads or stickers featuring their favourite cartoon characters may be just small tokens, but they do let the grandchildren know that somewhere far away, their grandparents are thinking about them.
As children get a bit older and are able to appreciate more meaningful gifts, grandparents may want to consider passing on a special piece of jewelry or other family heirloom to honour a very special occasion, such as a graduation.
Entrusting them with such items is a sure way to let grandchildren know that their grandparents respect their maturity and accomplishments.
Another gift idea that makes a significant impression is to give a set of something, piece by piece, throughout the years. Things such as train sets or fancy tea services lend themselves well to this type of gift giving, allowing the child to build a special set of mementos that will always remind them of their grandparents.
While making the effort to keep in touch over the miles is an important building block in the grandparent/grandchild relationship, there is nothing quite like the experience of in person visits.
If they are able to do so, it is very beneficial for grandparents to make arrangements to go to see their grandchildren, at least once in a while.
In fact, one of the nicest special occasion gifts that a child can get would be a surprise visit from their proud grandparents.