When your grandchildren live far away, you probably don't have the opportunity to see them more than every few months, particularly in this economy. Here the most salient issue is building connections. Likely you will need to enlist the aid of your adult children and children-in-law to help you form the bonds between you and their kids. The way you do this will vary as they grow and will certainly flow from your own interests and creative talents. Whatever you choose, your efforts will be well worth it when you see how they remember you and experience their excitement on your next visit.
When your grandkids are babies, you will want to help them develop an impression of you. You can best do this by using all the sensations babies respond to. Let them begin to identify your voice by cooing to them on the phone or sending them tapes or CD's with your voice - singing, reading or speaking to them. They can begin to recognize your face from pictures of you in their room or on the computer via Skype. Have a special song or book that you share with them as you cuddle on each visit. Wear the same perfume - or even a dab of vanilla - every time you visit so that they learn to associate that with you.
As they begin to grow up, you can continue to use phone calls, letters, cards, Skype and emails between your trips to stay in touch. After you do visit, you may want to create a scrapbook for them of pictures and souvenirs from your time together. Their memories of you will be enhanced when they have something tangible to look at over and over again. You can write them stories or poems about some of the things you do together, with them as the star of the piece.
Learn about your grandchildren's activities and interests so you can engage and talk with them about topics that are meaningful to them. Pay attention to their friends when you attend their birthday parties or sports team events or special occasions - then you can ask about them later when you have returned home. Integrate what you find out and keep up with their changing activities. All of your efforts will help cement the connections between you.
For more tips on forming a close relationship with a grandchild who lives far away, click on the title above to go to our website and the article, Create Meaningful Bonds with Your Grandchildren Across the Miles.