Life is so much richer with grandparents. More adults involved with your kids’ lives means more role models and a bigger village for you to rely on. Your kids can gain new skills and wisdom from spending quality time with their grandparents — your parents may even learn a thing or two from their grandchildren. Strengthening the grandparent-grandchild bond is a blessing for everyone.
Forging close relationships between generations can be a bit tricky. They have less in common with each other than their same-age counterparts. Also, most families no longer live in multigenerational homes, so distance can keep grandparents and grandkids apart. As parents, it’s your job to find ways to help your child bond with their grandparents and find common ground despite physical distance.
- Use Them to Babysit
When your parents live within easy driving distance of your house, they make the perfect babysitter. Whether you’ve been planning a date night for weeks or need someone to watch the kids last minute, your children will be in great hands with their grandparents. You get help with your children and provide a way for your kids to bond with your parents, getting a taste of the fun you had growing up.
- Schedule Play Dates
Who says you have to wait till date night to schedule some grandparent-grandchild bonding time? Work with your parents to add some play dates to the calendar. The whole family will have something fun to look forward to, and you can squeeze in some necessary self-care time.
These little grandparent-grandchild dates can take many forms, like a rainy afternoon snuggled up with a read-aloud, dying their dos with Kool-Aid or taking a trip to the nearest zoo. Have your child devise a list of things they’d enjoy and share it with your parents. They’ll never run out of fun activities to do together.
- Make a Photo Album
Strengthening the grandparent-grandchild bond can be challenging when your parents live far away. One way to keep them present in your kids’ minds is to create a photo album with pictures of them over the years. Include photos of their grandparents when they were kids, adults, new parents and finally with the grandkids.
Your children will enjoy seeing the familiar faces and will have an easier time bonding when their grandparents are able to visit. You could send your parents a duplicate copy of the album for them to enjoy.
- Call Frequently
Thanks to modern technology, physical distance doesn’t have to come between your child spending time with their grandparents. You can help your child bond with their grandparents by providing ample opportunities to talk on the phone or over a virtual call. Video chats are preferable if your parents can embrace technology because it allows them to see each other — visual presence is a strong relationship builder.
Encourage your kids to call at least once a week to catch up on important milestones and achievements. Before your little ones can talk, you can call to talk about them and let your parents see your child’s face.
- Send Snail Mail
With all the junk and bills we receive daily, is there anything better than opening the mailbox to find a handwritten letter or sentimental card? Your kids can write to their grandparents like a pen pal and enjoy getting something back in the mail. You can even start with young kids by sending their precious artwork.
- Learn a New Hobby
Young kids’ and teens’ minds are ripe for learning new activities. Encourage your children’s interests in hobbies you know their grandparents enjoy. Your parents can share knowledge with a new generation, and your kids can learn new skills. They can strengthen their relationship over just about anything, like gardening, woodworking, bird watching, fishing or knitting.
- Share Activity Schedules
Life can get hectic when your kids start getting involved with extracurricular activities. However, it’s worth the time to connect with your parents and share the schedules for any games, concerts, meets, performances and anything else on your kids’ dockets.
These events will be even more fun when you aren’t watching by yourself. Your children will appreciate all the support from seeing their grandparents’ loving faces cheer them on.
- Eat a Regular Family Meal
If you’re lucky enough to have your parents nearby, arrange weekly or monthly dinners together. You can host every time or take turns making the meal and having it at your home. Coming together to eat gives everyone a chance to catch up on the everyday goings on. Plus, kids who regularly have sit-down meals with their families tend to have better physical and mental health and improved communication skills.
It’s also critical face-to-face time for strengthening the grandparent-grandchild bond. End dinner with a fun family game or story time for some added relationship-building.
Help Your Child Bond With Their Grandparents
Everyone benefits from actively involved grandparents. However, it will take work if it’s not something you’ve prioritized until now. Use these tips to create opportunities for strengthening the grandparent-grandchild bond.
You should also be upfront with your parents about expectations for your kids — what rules are strict, and where can they bend them a bit to spoil the grandkids? Setting boundaries now will help your child bond with their grandparents in a way that feels comfortable for everyone.
Beth is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She shares knowledge on a variety of topics related to nutrition, healthy living, and anything food-related. In her spare time, Beth enjoys trying out new fitness trends and recipes.