Long Distance Grandparenting

Long distance grandparenting can be difficult, painful, sad. It can also be positive, happy, rewarding. Keeping the connection alive is essential to building a loving, lasting relationship with your grandchildren, no matter where they live.

Video-chatting applications such as Skype or FaceTime are invaluable tools and very easy to use. The visual aspect of Skyping, as opposed to phone calls, is better for both sides of the conversation. In the beginning, before baby talks, you can watch his movements and check his growth as he learns new skills like rolling over and sitting up. You can be a part of his daily life while he eats, coos, sleeps and cries! You can’t reach through the computer screen to hold him but Skyping is the next best thing to being there. During my daughter-in-law’s maternity leave she and I had a weekly date to Skype. I felt so included in my grandson’s life and was able to support my daughter-in-law in her new role as a mother.

As a baby he learns to recognize your voice, and your chatting helps to develop his language skills. Adjust your expectations to his age, mood, time of day, and schedule. Whether your visit is two minutes or fifteen, let him set the tone; take delight in however long or however much he can give. As your grandchild ages, as he becomes mobile and learns to talk, your Skype visits won’t be so one-sided. However it may be difficult to keep track of him as he runs around his house! You’ll do a lot of just listening and watching but soon you’ll hear his excitement as he yells “Grandma, Grandma, Grandma” when he knows you’re calling. My grandson is so used to Skyping with me that he cried “I can’t see Grandma” during an ordinary phone call.

After a real face-to-face visit, Skyping is a good way to remind him about the things you did together to reinforce your relationship. If he has been to your house, the computer visit can show him things in your home that he might recognize.

Don’t forget the goodbye kisses. Your computer screen will get all smudgy but it will be worth it!