Long distance grandparenting requires going the extra mile, especially when thinking about things to do with your grandchildren when you see them in person.
No matter how far away you live, or the age of your grandchild, you are the keeper of what will be the most important stories of your grandchild’s life. These are the stories about generations before them, including your childhood and your parents, but also stories about their parents.
Children love to hear stories about parents when they were little. Think of the funny things your own kids would say or do and share these with your grandchildren. It’s a unique way to connect with older grandchildren and get them listening.
If you can’t be with them face-to-face, take some quiet time and write out a funny story to mail out. If they are a baby, start writing stories out now so they can be sent later on.
Why is this so important for grandparents to do?
The Family Narratives Lab does research about family story telling. In study after study they find that family storytelling contributes to better coping skills, a stronger sense of identity and lower rates of depression and anxiety in adolescents.
My favourite finding is that teens and college students report that even if they seemed uninterested when the stories were told, they can retell them when asked.\
Further, they valued the stories for their lessons and insights. They recounted stories of adversity their grandparents faced and shared how that helped them to overcome their own struggles.
Being a grandparent really does involve doing things now, that will benefit your grandchild later. As Long Distance Grandparents, stories are one of the unique contributions you can make to your grandchild(ren)’s life, no matter the miles between.
To learn more about the benefits, this article in The Wall Street Journal is a great read: The Secret Benefits of Retelling Family Stories.
To get started with some of the best questions to share family stories, check out this list of 20 questions created by Dr. Robyn Fivush, the Director at the Family Narratives Lab. The fun part is that your grandchild(ren) might know some of the answers and this gives them an opportunity to tell stories.
Share a family story and then invite everyone else to tell a story too, including the youngest and the oldest storytellers in your family. Little ones often come up with some very entertaining stories!
We are headed out to England on Sunday to be with the grands in our life. On the way to school this morning my 5-year old said “Mummy, I’m really excited to see Oma & Gramps. I’m going to give them a biiiigggg, biiigggg hug when I see them”.
I love that he knows them and looks forward to seeing them – even though we are many miles apart and always have been.
For more ideas like this download my FREE guide: Things you can do TODAY to Build Strong Bonds with Your Grandchildren from a Distance.