There is something special about the relationship between kids and their grandparents. I still remember pulling up to McDonald’s with my grandfather. He would take his leather change purse out of his pocket and count the exact change for his cup of coffee. He always knew exactly how much it would be.
Our trips weren’t fancy. It wasn’t expensive. Sometimes I didn’t even get anything. It didn’t take a long time. Just a ride to get his coffee, but it was something we did together—and that is what made it special.
If you want your children to feel connected to their grandparents, you can find simple things that your children will remember. Whether they live close to their grandparents or far away, you can help foster a special relationship and connection.
What’s the Secret?
The number one thing you can do to foster a connection between your kids and their grandparents is to be intentional. Fostering a close relationship between the generations requires consistent choices to connect. You can’t just do one thing and expect a lifelong connection filled with fond memories. When you are intentional about creating many opportunities for your kids and your parents to engage with one another, you help them create a bond.
A Word of Advice
A child’s relationship with their grandparent is supposed to look different than their relationship with their parents. While grandparents need to respect how parents raise their kids, parents also need to remember that it’s okay for grandparents to do some things differently than they would. Part of the fun of a relationship with grandparents is that they are not the parent!
As long as grandparents are not doing anything that conflicts with important boundaries parents set for their children, it is part of how grandparents and grandkids create their own fun relationship.
Here are some creative and simple ways for your child and their grandparents to create a special connection.
If Grandparents Live Close By
Proximity and availability give grandparents that live close by unique opportunities that not everyone has. Some things to try:
A weekly date: Set up a weekly time for your child to spend with their grandparent. This could be just a visit to their house or a time to go out together. Make it the same every week so it becomes part of the normal routine instead of something that gets overlooked. Even having a grandparent pick your child up from school one day each week helps them connect.
Sleepovers: A sleepover is a great way to spend long blocks of time together if everyone feels comfortable with the idea. It allows fun things like bedtime stories, staying up late, and having breakfast together in the morning. Plus, it is a good way for kids to get comfortable with sleepover experiences with a trusted family member.
Invite grandparents to activities: Grandparents often love attending kids’ activities like sporting events and school plays. Be sure to invite them to come. Make sure they know when they are so they can plan ahead.
Little traditions: Create small traditions between your kids and their grandparents. Like the McDonald’s trips with my grandfather, even simple things like getting a donut together create fond memories over time. Try simple things like going to a favorite store, helping with projects, or making a favorite recipe. Kids love to help taste-test baked goods!
If Grandparents Live Far Away
It may seem challenging to connect with grandparents when they live far away, but there are great ways to bridge the distance, especially with technology.
Storytime: Use video chat apps and have grandparents read their grandchildren a story. It’s a fun way for kids to hear stories their grandparents love. You can even encourage your child to read a story to their grandparent and sneak in some reading practice! It’s especially fun if both your child and the grandparent have a copy of the book to look at during their storytime.
A weekly call: It may not sound glamorous, but setting up a time for a weekly call helps them feel connected regularly. During the week you can encourage your child to write down things to share with their grandparents so they’re ready with something to talk about. You can also teach them some questions to ask their grandparent. They can ask about the weather where they are, ask about something funny that happened, or find out what they did during the week.
Long-distance dates: With a little planning, grandparents can still enjoy dates with their grandkids. Plan an ice cream date where they can talk on the phone or video chat while they enjoy their treat.
Make something together: Find a family recipe and—with a little help—have your child make it. They can make it while video chatting with their grandparent or simply call them and tell them about it.
Start a collection: Find a common interest like collecting stamps or special rocks. They can each start a collection and share exciting finds on the phone or the next time they visit.
Special Tips for Tweens & Teens
Staying connected during the tween and teen years can be hard for all of us. Finding little ways for your kids to connect with their grandparents is special for everyone.
Send a text: Encourage kids to send their grandparents a text sharing about how they did in a game or on a test.
Teach grandparents to text or connect on social media: It may sound silly, but it’s where kids spend their time. Helping grandparents meet kids where they are fosters more connection.
Send a photo: Grandparents love photos. Use a digital frame that allows your teen to send their photos right from their phone. It’s a great surprise for grandparents to see a new picture pop up.
Ask for help with rides: One of the best times I can get my teens to talk is in the car. Asking a grandparent to help with rides is a good way to give them time to connect without it feeling like too much for your child.
Fostering a close relationship between your child and their grandparents is a gift for everyone that lasts far beyond the childhood years. As you make consistent choices for connection, you will have a front-row seat to watching that special relationship grow.