By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.
Not long ago I interviewed Wayne and Marci Rice on our Family Impact Podcast (click here for that interview) about their new reality as long distant grandparents. They understand the loneliness that grandparents who are not geographically close to their grandchildren often experience. The opportunities to hug and touch your grandchildren regularly are missing. You miss out on so much of their growing up and attending their school events.
But you don’t have to lose touch. You may not be able to be with them often like you could if they were living close by. You can’t attend all the special events in their lives, but you can be intentional about staying connected. There are still ways to continue building strong family relationships, and to impact their lives for Christ—even at a distance.
Based upon my conversation with the Rices, and personal experiences as a long-distant grandparent, I have compiled FIVE ways we can intentionally stay connected to and influence our grandchildren. We’ll look at the first two in this article:
1. USE TECHNOLOGY
I know some of you despise technology, some are intimidated by it, and some are just plain apathetic about using it. If any of these describes you, let me just say, “Get over it.” Technology is not going away. It is the world of your grandchildren. It is foolish to ignore the opportunities is gives you. You are never too old to learn some technology. When you do, you say to your grandchildren, “I care about you and the world you live in. I want to stay connected with you in meaningful ways because you are important to me.”Here are two simple ways you can take advantage of technological communication opportunities with your grandchildren:
- Use your cell phone: This is especially important for your grandchildren 12 and older. Ask if you can set up a regular day to call them. Ask them what is going on in their lives. You can also text or Instant Message (find out which they prefer, and if you don’t know how to do it, ask them to teach you). Use these to send simple messages of encouragement or a blessing. Text a Scripture or a photo (you can figure it out), or a thought for the day.
Learn to use Skype or FaceTime: These are easy to use tools that allow you to not only speak to your grandchildren, but to also see each other. Because this technology is visual (you can use a computer, tablet, or smartphone), it helps everyone keep up with the changes of time. It’s also a great way to communicate at a deeper level that phone calls or text messages allo.
2. USE SNAIL MAIL
The good ole Postal Service or UPS are still great ways to send…
- Cards and letters: Everyone loves to get mail, including your grandkids. If there are multiple grandchildren in one family, make sure to send one to each of them, but put them all in one larger envelop so they all arrive at the same time. Don’t limit cards and notes for birthdays and holidays. Let the know you care by sending them at unexpected times. Include current photos of yourself. Tell them about news in your world. Include a Scripture verse and special blessing. If you are one of the creative types who make their own cards, these can be extra special treats for your grandkids.
- Care packages: Care packages send the message that you value them—they are in your thoughts. Marci Rice sends care packages to her grandchildren with a special treat inside (perhaps their favorite cookies you baked for them), or something from the Dollar Store that is fun and says, “I think you’re special”. You could include an unfinished drawing or page from one of the dozens of intricate coloring books available in stores. You start the coloring or drawing and ask them to complete it and send it back.
It’s about intentionality. I can sit around in a funk and complain that I never get to see my grandchildren, or I can choose to make the best of a not so perfect situation. Paul reminded the Ephesians to “make the most of every opportunity, for the days are evil.” Distance cannot keep us from staying in touch, but our attitude can.
Next time we’ll look at three more ways we can make the most of this opportunity as a long-distance grandparent.