long distance grandparenting
There are quite a few grandparenting books on the market these days. Most of them focus on the journey the grandparent makes and what it’s like becoming a grandparent. There are a few that focus on the grandparent relationship with the grandchildren, their interactions, the activities they do together, and how to strengthen their relationships. Some of these books are written with the grandmother’s perspective, some with the grandfather’s perspective, others give both sides of the equation. I’ve read a fair few of these books, all kinds. They all have their positives and give insights on this new status we’ve entered into, of grandparent. I’m sure many grandparents can benefit from each of these books. I think for most grandparents we sort of fall into the role of grandparent with lots of excitement, willingness to help, and without much difficulties. I know there can be problems for some with decerning this new title and what it entails, but for most we get it and willingly take on the new name of Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Mimi, Gramps, Paw-paw, Maw-maw, or whatever else our dear little people want to call us.
The book I’ve been writing isn’t really the kind of grandparent book that explores the problems of figuring out how to be a grandparent. The quandary I focus on in my book is building relationships with our grandchildren, even if they live far away. The book has lots of simple activities that can be done via video chat between grandparents and grandchildren. Yeah, I suppose I put my teacher’s hat on a bit, I do give lots of helps on creating the activities. In my book I provide fun and well tested stories, games for the grandparent to make, and other guides to help in not just building and strengthening your relationships with your grandchildren, but having the kind of fun that produces laughter, joy, and wonderful memories. I have thoroughly field tested all the stories, games, and activities with my own grandchildren. They get wonderfully excited when they hear that Grandma’s on video chat. I love that! Over the past few years, we have built a relationship that I hope will get us through their teenage years and far beyond. I may not live close, I may not get to spend the time I would absolutely love to spend with them, but creating and sharing these activities with them over video chat helps me as a grandmother, and has created a real relationship with each of my grandchildren. They know me, and I know them. It hasn’t always been easy, living this far away, but I do my best to make sure they know Grandma loves them.
This isn’t a new problem, but it’s a problem we all face in our world today. We want to spend time with our grandchildren, even if we can’t be there in person. I think I’ve found some solutions in my book that I hope to share with everyone soonish. Until then, if you’d like to read some of the books I’ve read about grandparenting I provide a list below. I also found a pretty good article from the New York Times that is a bit informative.
Article from the New York Times:
Title – This Was Not on My Bucket List!: Navigating “Old School” Grandparenting in a “Newfangled” World
Author name – Linda Macconnachie
This book is great fun. It uses a lot of humor to compare the author’s childhood experiences with her parents and grandparents and the experiences she had with raising her own children, to the experiences she had with her grandchildren. She does mention long distance grandparenting, briefly. While there are some commonalities with my book, humor, relationship building, spending quality time with grandchildren and so forth. My book focuses on long distance grandparenting and many activities that can be done to build the relationships with the long distance grandchildren.
Title – Grandmothering: The Secrets to Making a Difference While Having the Time of Your Life
Author name – Linda Eyre
This book has lots of in person ideas to do with grandchildren. The author calls them “Grammie Camps” where they play games, sing songs, and memorize special verses. She shares lots of things she did with her grandchildren and reminisces about different aspects of being a grandmother, which is great, but doesn’t get into any long distance relationship building. In my book the relationships are built as the grandparents learn to play, and share their experiences with their grandchildren. It focuses on being present with your grandchildren in a long distance way. My book doesn’t focus on me, it focuses on helping other grandparents find their way as long distance grandparents.
Title – The Modern Grandparent’s Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to the New Rules of Grandparenting
Author name – Dr. Georgia Witkin
This book gives lots of statistics and polls on the different aspects of being a grandparent and dealing with the different rolls a grandparent encounters. These rolls include, the other set of grandparents, son in laws, daughter in laws and so forth. It focuses on the grandparent side of things and taking care of yourself. It gives lots of advice to the grandparent. It does have a little about activities with grandchildren, but mostly what you can do with older grandchildren.
My book doesn’t give one poll or statistic, or really even give advice on grandparents dealing with situations with other grandparents, or other in-laws. My book does give some encouragement to the grandparent and learning how to grandparent in a new way. It tells about some of the changes that have happened over the years, and how living far apart has become the new norm for a lot of grandparents. My book helps the grandparent reach their grandchildren in a way that will build strong and lasting relationships, relationships that will be remembered for a very long time.
Title – Grandparenting on Purpose: Fresh Ideas, Activities, and Traditions for Connecting with Grandchildren Near and Far
Author name – M. Winston Egan, Linda Egan
In this book the authors tell about many of their own interactions with their grandchildren. They relate stories of attending sporting events, dinners, phone calls, and even postcards, they’ve used to build relationships with their grandchildren, who all live nearby. They even give some recipes at the end of the book of favorite things they’ve shared with their grandchildren. They present a very close and caring relationship with each other, their grown children, and grandchildren of all ages, including great-grandchildren.
My book helps grandparents who live far away find ways to enjoy special times with their grandchildren, through video chatting. Long distance grandparenting takes a bit more work, but I believe we can create those close, caring relationships from afar.
Title – Unconditional Love: A Guide to Navigating the Joys and Challenges of Being a Grandparent Today
Author name – Jane Isay
This book focuses on the psychology of grandparenting. The author gives lots of practical advice on how grandparents can grow relationships with their grandchildren and their children. She encourages grandparents to share stories from family history and their own lives to help build relationships. She encourages them to become free from whatever parenting regrets they have by becoming caring, understanding grandparents.
In my book I do encourage grandparents to build strong relationships with their grandchildren by the play and interaction that is created for them in each activity.
Title – Championship Grandfathering: How to Build a Winning Legacy
Author name – Carey Casey
This author quotes a lot of research to support what he’s presenting in this book. He gives a lot of advice and encouragement to fathers and grandfathers to be involved in their children’s and grandchildren’s lives. The author even gives a formula to use, along with his encouragement to “enter the grandchild’s world”.
In my book I support entering the grandchild’s world through video chat play time. This helps the grandparent build strong relationships with their grandchildren. Each video chat playtime activity in my book, is structured in a way that engages the grandparents and grandchildren, not just in play time, but in relationship building as well. These activities can bring them all closer together and as the children grow older, their relationships will grow stronger.
We live in a time of virtual, almost everything, including relationships. Things have changed, so much, from those far away days when you could just go visit your grandchildren and experience that wonderful relationship that happens, between grandparents and grandchildren. Long-distance grandparents face a huge challenge with grandparenting in this virtual world. One main challenge is that with young grandchildren, you need to come up with a strategy to interact with them. This interaction has to be fun and engaging for the grandchildren, or they will simply get bored, frustrated, or completely tune you out.
As grandparents the responsibility is ours to build relationships with our grandchildren. If it doesn’t happen, it’s on us. Relationships need to begin when our grandchildren are young, so that we can build that relationship stronger as they get older. We need to find ways to help that relationship grow as they grow.
A 2019 AARP national survey concluded that over half the grandparents at that time were 200 or more miles away from at least one grandchild. They also concluded that grandparents are looking for ways to stay connected with their grandchildren.
Several years ago, I pondered this long-distance grandparenting dilemma. How could I build a good strong relationship with my grandchildren who lived over two thousand miles away? It’s not like I could call them, text them, or go see them on a regular basis. They were, and are still very young. So, how do you build a relationship with very young people when you are so far away?
It took me a while, but I came up with a solution that worked for me and my grandchildren. The solution involved me putting myself to the task of creating a way to play with them, online. Not video games, but grandma games. I spent a lot of time developing games, these games turned into stories, which evolved into full blown activities. I integrated scavenger hunts, little kid mysteries, and even a grandma imaginary friend into these activities.
Just like all grandchildren are individual, so are grandparents. We have to find what works for us individually, and what will work for our grandchildren. As they grow, we have to grow too. With very small grandchildren through toddlerdom, we can watch them, read them stories, cheer them on as they learn new things, all on video chat. This type of interaction is great for that age children, but when they begin to talk, reason, and move beyond the toddler situation, what then? Watching them, or reading them a story just isn’t enough anymore. Play! We have to learn to play. Grandparents in essence need to tap into their inner child. Think back on the games you used to play when you were a kid. Which were your favorites? Use that. Kids love to play, they love to learn new games, especially the ones where you have to use your imagination. Did you play cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, tea party, or dress up? Teach them how, then play together over video chat.
Always remember to play to your strengths! Do what you do well, and then do it some more. Your grandchildren will love it, and your relationship will grow by leaps and bounds.
For some fun and games that I’ve created visit – https://www.julieworthington.com/portfolio/long-distance-grandparenting/
Patty David, B. N.-K. (2019, April 1). AARP Grandparents Study. AARP. https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/life/info-2019/aarp-grandparenting-study.html.