words Al Woods
People often overlook their long-distance grandparents. But suppose you’re lucky enough to have these family members in your life. There are many ways to improve and strengthen your relationship with them. When you’re distant from your grandparents, they may seem like strangers that you only see on holidays or special occasions. However, these same people probably had a significant impact on your childhood and are an essential part of your family.
More families are geographically spread out across the globe, leaving grandparents with fewer opportunities to see their grandchildren and help raise them in person. If you’re looking to strengthen your relationship with your grandparents despite the distance between you, consider using these seven tips to enhance your connection with them long-distance.
1. Pick Up the Phone
Today’s technology makes long-distance relationships a lot easier than they used to be. It’s easier than ever to communicate with those who live far away. But as in any relationship, communication is critical. Establishing regular phone calls and Skype sessions can go a long way toward strengthening your bond. The more you talk, the more you connect. If necessary, schedule in time during which you do nothing but catch up on one another’s lives. Focus on each other and reconnect!
2. Create a Lasting Memory
As you’re creating memories, be sure that you’re also thinking about how they’ll help your grandparents keep their long-distance relationship alive. Don’t just rely on the same old holiday cards and phone calls. Think of new ways to interact—send them a video message on Facebook or pick up a special birthday card in person at a store close to you. These activities will add more depth and meaning to what would otherwise be standard. Send an eCard and call on holidays.
Talking is great, but there’s something really meaningful about sending photos along with your messages as well. It goes beyond seeing each other regularly; it helps create a richer sense of time passing for both people involved in these long-distance relationships.
3. Write Letters to Them
Remember when people would sit down and write letters instead of sending a quick text? If you’re lucky enough to have grandparents who live far away, it’s a good idea to take advantage of snail mail and send them a letter now and then. Whether it’s just once or twice a year, or something more regular, there are lots of ways you can use handwritten letters as an avenue for closeness.
You can make your letters unique by including some media, like photos or pieces from magazines that match a story you’re telling in your letter. Try giving your letters some texture to show you put in the effort. You can also use embossing folders to decorate envelopes and even the pages of your letters! Grandparents tend to love anything artsy. While they may seem overly fancy, they’ll be very special when they receive them.
4. Schedule Video Calls
Video calls can help eliminate many of the problems with long-distance relationships. A recent study found that grandparents who regularly engaged in video chats were more likely to be included in their grandchildren’s daily lives. And as a result, they felt more valued by their families. Suppose your grandparents live far away—schedule regular video chats. No matter how often you talk on the phone or Skype, seeing each other face-to-face helps strengthen relationships.
5. Invite Them Over
Spending time together face-to-face is a great way to keep your bond strong—and it doesn’t even have to be that often. If your grandparent lives far away, invite them over for dinner once a month or more! Nothing beats sharing a meal and conversation. Not only is it great for your relationship, but studies show that eating together as a family increases kids’ feelings of closeness and connectedness. So call them up and invite them over!
6. Visit Them When You Can
Making a long trip every few months is a great way to strengthen your relationship. Spend as much time as you can together, enjoy each other’s company, and catch up on the news. You can schedule visits in advance so that grandparents don’t have to make last-minute trips if they are unable. Give yourself plenty of notice when scheduling visits; remember that many older people still live in rural areas without easy access to transportation.
7. Send Care Packages
Sending care packages is a wonderful way to show how much you care, especially if you live far from your grandparents. This gift could consist of homemade cookies and a handwritten note, or you can send something more elaborate like a coffee mug or throw blanket. No matter what you send, remember that it’s not about what’s in the package but rather how much love you put into it.
The best way to improve your relationship with long-distance grandparents is by meeting them in person at least once a year. Face-to-face visits create bonds that you won’t be able to feel over video or phone calls. Plus, they don’t see you every day as parents do, so a visit allows them to connect in a way that feels fresh and special. Make it happen, and you can build an even better relationship than before!