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Thread: Grandparenting from a distance - advice needed please

  1. #11
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    I hope the grandparents who are local were totally oblivious. I don't want to think it was on purpose.

    I would say the non-local grandparents need to open up a conversation. First with their own child, and then maybe the spouse. Discuss what the relationship should ideally look like. Get them to buy in. Then, ( not knowing the dynamics at work here) perhaps a small meeting with the other grands. At this early stage of grandparenting, everyone is finding their roles. It's definitely not too late to ensure all have an engaged roll with these precious young humans.

    Nuts and bolts of making it happen? FaceTime and Skype. Voice recorder text messages and emails - yes, I know at this age of requires parental involvement to share with them. Send them a self addressed package of themed pictures to color in and return to you. This can be built on as they get older - color me a card for Christmas, write me a short story, etc . Once they're older, you can Send a journal type notebook back and forth, or even do it online. Each person writes a paragraph of part of a story until it's filled up. Send them a book, and you have one too - then read to them through video. So many ways to connect!

    Additionally, I'd ask to have alone time with the kiddos. Since they're not in school, can they go home with Grandma and Grandpa for a weekend, then a week at a time for visits? I take mine on vacation every year for a week in the summer (it's Nanny and me time) and alternate holiday weeks as well with my hubby.

    It's very possible to make it work, but it requires WORK on the part of all parties.

  2. #12
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    Agree that local grandparents should bow out when long-distance grandparents are able to visit. Even over Thanksgiving weekend, local grandparents can still be included by inviting them to formal events like sit-down dinner, but long-distance grandparents should have the opportunity to get to know the kids for the rest of the long weekend.

    ** Do not kiss and hug or try to force little kids to kiss and hug you if they don't want to! If necessary, assure parents that they need not force kids to do this.

    My grandparents lived in Germany and when we saw them (rarely) they always gave my brother and me this special chocolate from Germany, just one little piece at a time. We loved that chocolate and looked forward to it -- we still talk about it to this day! So, if sweet treats are okay with parents, that might be a way in--it worked on my little self. Try to find something unique they wouldn't get regularly. Or do something fun like hiding it and then having a hunt of some sort.

    Agree with suggestion of skype/facetime. Also always sending birthday cards and maybe other holiday cards (Easter, Valentines' Day, Halloween, Christmas, etc.)

    We also always loved ny uncle from Germany, even though we hardly ever saw him. In his case, he was a real kid-whisperer who could make stuffed animals talk like puppets, and was always being extremely silly, etc. Actually, my cousin who is my age has this same quality with kids, they all love him immediately because he is so funny and silly and plays with them and pays a ton of attention to them -- not everyone can pull this off, though.

    Try to have something special you always do when seeing grandkids, such as always bringing each a new book, or letting them look through your wallet or pretend to drive the car, something like that that is unique to those grandparents.

  3. #13
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    I agree that having a special thing helps. My husband’s grandfather was not overly fond of children, but he seemed to like mine, although (or because) he saw them rarely. They had a game they would play where he would start them on the middle stair step, then hide a penny in one hand and have them take turns guessing. If you got it right, you went up a step, wrong and you went down. Even as teens they would mention the penny game when his name came up.

  4. #14
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    Yikes! The first order of business is a discussion with the kids. Why would THEY do this to the visiting Grandparents? If that relationship conversation cannot be resolved, a relationship with the grands won't be supported long distance either.

    That was seriously screwed up and mean. (this spoken from a psych perspective and I'm not a Mom)

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gardnr View Post
    Yikes! The first order of business is a discussion with the kids. Why would THEY do this to the visiting Grandparents? If that relationship conversation cannot be resolved, a relationship with the grands won't be supported long distance either.

    That was seriously screwed up and mean. (this spoken from a psych perspective and I'm not a Mom)

    I agree, Gardnr. And why do these parents not have some responsibility to foster a relationship between their parents and the grandchildren. Why on earth is this all on the visiting grandparents, to be skyping and sending gifts and calling and begging for a relationship--this should be an equal responsibility, with the parents having responsibility to helping foster a relationship between their parents and the grandchildren. As in go take a trip and visit the grandparents.

  6. #16
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    No reasonable amount of long distance visiting is going to make a preschooler find someone familiar. You can skype several times a week. Even daily.

    when I was a kid all my grandparents were in town. I remember one holiday celebration where my maternal grandparents invited my paternal grandparents. My cousin on my maternal side got jealous of sharing attention from “our” grandmother and told me “this is MY grandmother! THAT’s YOUR grandmother!”

    little kids are are going to naturally gravitate to the familiar and I don’t think it’s right to ban the local grandparents from a holiday celebration. I presume it was during the celebration that the kids were playing favorites and not that the other grandparents were actually there 24/7 for the visit?

    my nephew has never hugged me - when he was little I was kind of a stranger and the only relative who refused to let his parents force him to hug me against his will, and then he got big enough he didn’t want to hug anyone. But he likes me. Some day he will be a grown man and i’ll be an old lady and i’ll probably get a hug. Meanwhile we bond over shared “weird” food preferences at family gatherings.

    my heart grandson doesn’t see me often. I consider it my job to be sure that when he does it is a fun experience. Not his mom’s.

  7. #17
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    So many great and wise thoughts. I will summarize and share them. I think that a number of distance grandparents are having this same puzzled wish of 'how to stay in touch?' and any info given can be freely shared.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tybee View Post
    Razz, I meant that the grandparents should receive a visit from the family--the parents of the grandchildren should take them to visit their grandparents.
    I think that could be a good idea. The parents of grandchildren should also initiate.

  9. #19
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    I just had the most wonderful quality time with my granddaughter whom I see once a month and during holidays. Her short life of seven years has been so fractured between somewhere around a dozen places where she had a bed and spent time. In her beginning years, I was her primary caregiver a couple times per week and so we bonded. Then her mother remarried and moved out of state just four months ago.

    I confessed to my wife that I miss having the kid around. I have not spoken to my ex dil since she left my son. My son and her have a functional relationship for shared custody. So even though granddaughter does not see me much, our bond seems to have not been diminished. I do not call her, write her or FaceTime her. I get smiles, I get hugs, I get “I love you”s, and I get smartphone pics forwarded to me by dad of her receiving recognition certificates at school. Things like that.

    Yeah, last Saturday we baked cut out cookies together, rolled the dough, made icing......and ate a few of the ones that weren’t perfect. We had flour all over us and the kitchen. It was way past bedtime when she looked at me and said she had one more thing to do before bed. She likes to play the guitar with me. She grabbed her guitar and I mine and we had a dang good concert. Yep, she has her own personal guitar that sits in the corner of my sunroom waiting for her return.

    We had a discussion about Christmas presents. She told me the things she wanted and I said that it wasn’t all coming from me....I have my limits and it’s not good to get everything you want, just what you need. She said, “Anything you get me pappy, I will love.”

    Boy, It certainly was a good day.

  10. #20
    Senior Member flowerseverywhere's Avatar
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    We are the fourteen hour away by car grandparents, the other set is a few hours away. Since our kids were hometown sweethearts, we know them and they are truly wonderful people and the grandkids love them. I feel they are so lucky to have them close by.

    We have a fabulous relationship, but my DIL has emphasized how important this is and we owe a lot to her. Here is what we do

    avoid the holidays. Too much excitement, too much food, everyone’s schedules and routines are off.
    When we visit I get the parents to plan dinner out, or even going to a movie in the afternoon. We have done this since #1 was born. They actually started going away for long weekends and leaving them with us. I make a huge effort to make sure any toy or food we give them is cleared with the parents. We never question their decisions and follow their routines as exactly as we can. I did not want my in laws or parents telling me what to do and you really need to respect your adult children. Of course if I thought something was extremely harmful I would speak up, but slight differences inparenting make no difference.

    At at least twice a month I send them each a hand written letter. If we travel, they each get a postcard from every state we travel through. They have little TV or computer time so we do little computer time.

    Now on that they are in school sometimes we are there during school days. When everyone is at school and work I plan a special meal of their favorite foods, and set the table with fancy folded napkins and we make it a special celebration. Tons of ideas on the Internet. Last time I made a train out of colored peppers, wheels of cucumber slices and they were full of carrot sticks etc. the parents come home to an immaculate house, a healthy dinner on the table, raked leaves or cut grass, whatever we can think of to help them. Needless to say they love it when we come because instead of being a burden we are a huge help. Last time I got the kids in the kitchen and we made homemade pizzas. I had all the ingredients for pizza dough and they mixed and kneaded, put on toppings and we baked them.

    But it most important of all, don’t be a negative nelly. Young people today have an immense amount of pressure on them. I would suggest approaching it like this:

    ”you are doing such a great job with the kids, and we want to be more a part of their lives Can you come visit? Maybe they would like to go out for dinner. Be a help. Not a burden

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