Here are some ways to help encourage a strong bond between your children and their grandparents:
Capturing Their Stories
While my kids adored their grandparents, they didn't know much about Nanny's and Poppy's lives. Before visiting them, we brainstormed a list of questions we wanted to ask, such as how they met and what they liked to do as kids. Then we recorded video of the older kids talking to their grandparents, asking them questions and listening to their stories. My parents were flattered that the kids had taken such an interest in them, and my kids were excited to learn more about their grandparents. The experience was such a hit that we continued the interviews over the course of several visits. These videos have become a treasured keepsake.
Happy Birthday, Grandma!
Our children have learned to celebrate their great-grandmother's birthday with the same enthusiasm that is shown at their own birthdays. They help prepare food and clean and decorate the house. They create handmade cards to honor her on her special day. During the party, they join the rest of the family in telling their great-grandmother what they love and appreciate about her.
Long-Distance Family Connections
In our family, grandparents live across oceans and over jagged mountain ranges. The key we have found to cultivating relationships between my children and their grandparents includes consistent and creative communication. Here are a few ways we’ve found to stay in touch:
Schedule telephone dates. Plan regular phone conversations with grandparents. Ahead of time, discuss with your child one or two questions she can ask or subjects she can talk about. Honor the scheduled time to talk by having a key phrase to signal the end of the conversation.
Send art. Make good use of the masterpieces posted on your refrigerator. Instead of allowing these crayon creations to gather dust, mail them to grandparents.
Celebrate small. We send pictures of the big events, but we also document the small things — lost teeth, tea parties and mismatched outfits. Grandparents love being involved in their grandchild’s daily life.
Go high-tech. Internet-based video-calling services like Skype and FaceTime are easy to use — even for those who may not be tech savvy. Set up a way for grandparents to video chat with your child. We buy Grandma and our daughter the same book to read over FaceTime, then Grandma reads while we help our daughter turn the pages.
Family stories and tweens
One interesting way for tweens to interact with older relatives — grandparents, fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles — is to have them ask family members about their lives in order to preserve their stories. Kids can do this through interviewing their relatives and writing down the stories, taking a home video of their relatives or even making a scrapbook page about the stories. Not only will children learn more about their family's history, they will grow closer to their extended family. If you don't live near older relatives, consider having your child call them on the phone or use Skype. Doing this will help tweens learn to sit, listen and talk to older people. And it can be done all year.