Geographically Challenged Grandparents

In celebration of Grandparent's Day, a look at this challenge many face.

Posted Sep 10, 2015

In today’s society, families may live much further apart than in earlier generations, and some young families move more often than ever before. Grandparents may not be located in physical proximity to their grandchildren.

By Viridiano Barrios (Avós com o neto no restaurante) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons
Source: By Viridiano Barrios (Avós com o neto no restaurante) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

This can bring on a number of different issues, both for grandparents, parents and the children involved. Some grandparents may feel disconnected or uninvolved in their grandchildren’s lives because they aren’t physically on hand except for vacations. Parents may have to juggle more childcare arrangements, which can sap both time and financial resources, thus making connecting or vacations difficult. Grandparents can feel wistful, or even jealous if other grandparents do live closer and are involved in the children’s lives on a regular basis.

This is where technology can be a friend, new traditions can be formed, and relationships can remain close. The best thing about these tips is you don’t have to choose between them, layer them in all together to cultivate a relationship. If you’re tech-challenged, ask the kids to help you get set up, or look for a class at your local library.  

  • Set up a video conferencing schedule via Skype or Facetime so that you and your family can see each other while you’re talking.
  • Recapture the long lost art of letter-writing… kids love to get and send mail.
  • Find a shared activity to facilitate bonding, despite the distance. This can include interest in a sport, hobby, favorite TV show, or even a video game (many of which can be played together over the internet).
  • If the children are older and have cell phones, text them from time to time to say hi, share a funny picture or ask about their day.
  • Meet the grandkids where they are, and yes, this means social media. Google how to create an Instagram account and follow them. Just be careful not to stalk them or comment on everything they post… kids are first and foremost on social media to relate to their peers. However this can be a great way to further bond over shared interests.
  • Take an inter-generational vacation. Funding for it may be complicated, but going on a trip with your grandchildren (with or without their parents) can be a memorable bonding experience!

All in all, with some ingenuity and time, you can enjoy a rich relationship with your grandchildren despite any geographical distance between you.