Children’s relationships with their grandparents will differ widely. Some children will consider their grandparents as kind of substitute parents while others may look upon them as something akin to a fairytale – they hear a lot about them but haven’t actually laid eyes on them lately. Regardless of how often your children and their grandparents can see each other there are many things that parents can do to foster a relationship between their children and their parents.
Whether grandparents live in the next town or another country, children can still communicate with them as often as they would like. Don’t worry, this communication needn’t burn through your savings either. In fact, investigating electronic options of communication may require you and your children to spend more time with the grandparents in setting up electronic accounts and equipment. Once you sort out the ways in which grandparents are available for communication, remind your children that they are always welcome to:
- Write out a letter, card or postcard.
- Make special cards and notes.
- Send a text message.
- Buy a phone card with their birthday money or savings.
- Send an email or free e-card.
- Make a special telephone call every now and then.
Develop Family Traditions
For children to enjoy strong relationships with their grandparents, parents should try to make sure that the two groups can see each other fairly regularly. Even if you can only arrange meetings at Christmas or during summer holidays, developing family traditions for these events will help everyone feel connected and reassured. Some examples include:
- Trimming the tree when grandparents arrive.
- Sending children and grandparents to finish holiday shopping together.
- Having grandparents read special holiday stories and poems to children.
- Allowing grandparents to put children to bed each evening when they are together.
- Letting children and grandparents have a special outing, such as to the beach or a museum.
- Encouraging a grandparent’s day when they and the children can decide on the itinerary.
Often when parents separate or divorce it is the grandparents who miss out on relationships with their grandchildren. Not only does this hurt the grandparents, but it hurts the children as well. If you and your partner are having difficulties, try not to bar his/her parents as a means of getting back at your partner. Instead:
- Tell your partner that you expect him/her to arrange for the grandparents and children to meet up.
- Encourage your children to communicate with both sets of grandparents.
- Send out announcements – graduations, religious events, etc. – to both sets of grandparents.
- Ask your partner to arrange for his/her parents to be present at any birthday or holiday celebrations that (s)he arranges for the children.
Grandparents and grandchildren can have special relationships and parents should encourage this. Often, in the event that anything happens to a parent, children look upon their grandparents to fill the void so making sure that the two remain close is important. Even if partners separate, each parent should remain conscious that his/her parents and children communicate and keep up family traditions. Remember, extended family is important for children’s identity as well as sense of security, and grandparents are at the forefront of any extended family. Encourage your children’s relationships with their grandparents, and their happiness will be a worthwhile result.