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Jill Savage
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Ask Jill Savage a parenting question. She monitors this message board and will respond will respond with advice in her weekly column.
 
About the Author
Jill Savage is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts at Home, an organization designed to encourage, educate, and equip women in the profession of motherhood.
 
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Hearts at Home

Grandparents are Important

Jill Savage
Hearts at Home

CBN.com Twenty years ago my husband decided to change careers.  We moved away from our extended family with two small children in tow.  Anne was 2 and Evan, 3 months.  My mother was fearful that the kids might never have a close relationship with their grandparents.  After all, both my mother and father had grown up with extended family nearby.  My sisters and I had lived with five miles of both sets of grandparents.  And now, my children would be hours away from their grandparents.  It was a new challenge for our family.

With the mobility of families these days, I find that many families face the same challenges we do: staying in touch with grandparents and other extended family.  It is possible to have a special relationship even long distance--it just takes a bit more effort. If you are a parent trying to keep grandchildren in touch with grandparents here's some ideas for making it work:

  • Children bring home so many pictures and craft projects from school.  Rather than discarding some of them (discreetly of course!), mail them off to grandma and grandpa once a month.  Simple pictures can be folded and place in a regular envelope or a 9X12 manila envelope can be filled throughout the month and sent off regularly.  Consider addressing the envelopes once a year (during the summer is a nice time)--this will help hold you accountable to actually doing the project.
  • Mail pictures to family regularly.  When the children are in school, send a care package of school pictures and letters or colored pictures from the grandchildren.  When you have film developed, order double prints to send to grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
  • A regular Saturday morning or Sunday evening phone helps even a toddler recognize a grandparent’s voice.  This also assures regular communication.
  • Have children write thank you notes for any gifts received from extended family.  This lets the sender know the gift arrived, expresses thankfulness from the receiver, and gives the school aged children the opportunity to let family know what's happening in their life.
  • When traveling to see extended family for holidays, take holiday craft projects with you.  We travel to see family on Thanksgiving and always take with us a construction paper turkey centerpiece made for the Thanksgiving table.  This gives the child great pride to share their creation with extended family
  • If you are a grandparent trying to stay in touch with grandchildren try some of these ideas:

  • Send regular letters to each grandchild, if possible.  When Anne was just 2 or 3 my mother would send her an envelope with an enclosed index card that had a picture sentence on it.  It said "I love you" with a picture of an eye, a heart, and the single letter "U".  It was signed "Grandmother" by drawing a stick person with curly hair that Anne began to read as grandmother.
  • Throw a "grandchild camp" at your home each summer.  I know one couple who has 16 grandchildren.  With that many grandchildren it is virtually impossible to do too much without wearing yourself out.  Each summer, though, they hold a "grandchild camp" and invite the children for a few days to their home.  They even hire a few teenagers to provide some extra hands.  The kids do craft projects, read stories, and play games with grandma and grandpa.  They bring their sleeping bags and sleep on the floor.
  • If you just have a few grandchildren consider having each child overnight for a few days each year.  This helps to better know each child individually.
  • Consider reading a book on tape and then giving the book and tape as a gift to the grandchild.  This keeps them in touch with grandma and grandpa's voice.  You can even use a little bell to indicate when to turn the pages.
  • Use email!  Today's youth are very computer literate.  Using email to communicate back and forth with a grandchild is like speaking their own language!

When children know their extended family, it gives them a sense of heritage.  It provides them an opportunity to learn from another generation, and it gives them a strong sense of belonging.  Those are all important parts of growing up.  When you have to communicate from a distance, it takes a bit more work--but it's worth the effort!  

 


Jill Savage (www.jillsavage.org) is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts at Home (www.hearts-at-home.org), an organization designed to encourage, educate, and equip women in the profession of motherhood. She is the author of five books including Professionalizing Motherhood, Is There Really Sex After Kids?, and her newest release My Heart’s At Home. Jill and her husband, Mark, have five children and make their home in Central Illinois.

 

 

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