Jim fishing with his grandchildren.
Many of us will find ourselves away from the beloved grandchildren as we age and they grow to adulthood and beyond. We may retire away from the grandchildren or they may leave to attend schools and to take on work. We will find those wonderful years where the grandparent/grandchild physical bonding took place to now be few and far between – maybe at family get-togethers, at a holiday, a wedding, or other family event.
Being apart physically does not, however, mean that our contacts by other methods does not happen. Our role in helping grandchildren feel loved, worthy, and secure can continue, whether they are 3, 12, 16, in their 20s, or well past their 30s.
Today, we are blessed with various types of communications that let us visit and feel part of their lives wherever they might be. Let me highlight some efficient and easy ways to bridge the distance – whether high-tech or not.
The low technology options start with what we have grown up with – “Snail Mail.” Despite many frowns from my kids and even grandkids in their particular usage, it remains a very personal form of communication, especially if it is a card in which you include your letter or inexpensive gift. If the mail is to a younger grandchild you can also include a possible riddle, picture, or word game. For the older grandchild, this can be the mechanism in which you can send that check representing a pizza or night at the movies treat.
Another historically utilized form of communications from years gone by is to pick up the phone and call. In this medium you hear their voice and it permits them to take the time to fully inform you on what they are doing and their achievements since the last time you spoke. If the call is routine, it should be scheduled so it does not interfere with the many activities and schoolwork times. The various cell phone plans provide the benefit of continued calls where long distance rates are a thing of the past.
Higher technology communication begins with texts and goes on to the video calls programs. These methods are quick, fast, and the grandkids fully relate to them.
- Texts. This form of communication works better with older grands as the “mailing” is basically instantaneous. You can ask your questions, provide updates on what you are doing, and query any information needs for future visits, birthdays, travel, etc. A bit of a downside is that this usually is a quick form of communication and can be used too often.
- Emails. This form of electronic communication loans itself to more longer communications, even though it can be a bit one sided. You can also send the email at any time so there is not any special need to schedule your contact. You will, of course, not receive a return email until your email is received and the response is typed. Another very nice thing about emails is that you can attach photos, lists, and other various documents that can serve to enhance your relationship.
- Web Video-Calling Service Programs. Whether you are on a personal computer, a laptop, tablet, or even a smartphone, it is now possible to contact other video-call users just about anywhere. Our neighbors use Skype to talk with their grands in Germany. This allows you and your Grands to see as well as talk with one another on the computer. To take advantage of this form of communication all you need for a video call is a device with a camera and microphone, the video-calling software, and an internet connection. If you are tech savvy, take on the chore of setting it up yourself, or contact your adult child or a professional who can set it up and give you hands-on instructions. Besides Skype which was launched in 2003, there are a number of other programs that are available. These include Viper, Jitse, WeChat, Wire, Google Duo and Handout, and FaceTime.
Bottom line is while these communication wonders do not replace a warn hug and the hand to hand passing of items, they represent out best mediums for minimizing the long-distance handicaps that evolve as we move to retirement locations or they move on to their schooling and adult lives. Time flies and the challenges are there if we are to maintain relationships, whether local or long-distance. In fact, age does not really have to be a big determinant for us to spend quality time with them and leave good memories of engaged and loving grandparents.