by Mary Martinez
With longer life expectancy and improved health in the older years, grandparents play an increasingly significant role on children’s’ lives. Sufficiently removed from the pressures of everyday parenting, grandparents can approach their grandchildren in a fun and playful manner, enhancing healthy learning and early development.
Involved grandparents can make a huge difference to the lives of their grandchildren. They pass on life lessons, valuable wisdom, and social values in a framework of unconditional love that is different to a parent-child relationship. They are the crucial link to the past and can be great teachers of the family’s heritage and identity. From bedtime stories to baking cookies, grandparents pass down unique family traditions from their own childhood. In return, grandchildren are extremely valuable and help give meaning and new purpose to their grandparents. Grandparents often rekindle their childlike sense of fun and wonderment through their grandchildren and are reminded of the beauty that childhood’s innocence brings.
One of the biggest challenges some grandparents face is the physical distance between them and their grandchildren. Despite the distance, there are ways to make sure you are part of your grandchild’s life.
Go to the bookstore and purchase 2 copies of the identical book. Mail one to your grandchild with a personal note telling them how much you love them.
With younger grandkids, you can read them a bedtime story. Call them shortly before their bedtime and read the book to them, and since both of you have the same book, they can keep up and admire the drawings as you read each page.
With older grandchildren, you can ask them what they’re reading and get the same book. Then you can talk about the characters, plot, and guess what might happen next. This will help give you both something to talk about and help them remain creative as they age. Share your ideas and predictions on characters, exchange laughs, and enjoy the moment.
Create your own stationary and send your grandchildren a love note. Try to incorporate something from your life and where you live, into the note. For example, my mother sends my child (her grandson) a card with heart shaped leaves in them from her morning walks. This personal touch goes a long way and helps the child feel physically closer to their grandparents, too.
If you know how to use Facetime or video-call, try playing an interactive game, such as Pictionary! If you do not have access to a camera, you can always play traditional board games online, such as chess, checkers, trivia, etc. There are TONS of free websites and apps that allow us to engage with loved ones near and far.
Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services allow for screen sharing and creates an opportunity for movie night! After you send out an invite and decide on a film, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the movie.
Finish The Story
This game can be done via phone call, e-mail, zoom, whatever! Have grandchild pick a theme (camping, the beach, summertime, etc.) From there, you start the story with one or two lines. Then it’s the grandchild’s turn to add a line or two. You go back and forth with this interactive, hilarious game until the story comes to an end. Laughs are guaranteed with this one. More than remembering the actual details of what you said or did with them, children will remember how you made them feel, and effort you put into being in their lives, while living near or far.
Keep in mind that no parent is perfect, and neither are grandparents. If we show one another unconditional love and support, it is incredible what we can all achieve and accomplish as individuals and as a family.