Great grandparenting doesn’t happen by accident. It takes effort, no matter the level of love, and in many instances, distance is the devil.
Decades ago, grandparents were an inherent part of the family and in many instances, lived in the same home. They provided a safety net with their in-house babysitting services, added income and knowledge that was priceless. Many families had grammies who baked, sewed, gardened and did the housework so the mom and dad could both work, therefore becoming a strong parental example to the growing children, also priceless.
With the extended family drifting apart in the 70’s and 80’s, the role of grandparent changed. Birthday and Christmas checks might be the only contact with the grandchildren who now live on the opposite coast without the means to fly back and forth as frequently as they wish. Telephone calls, cards and letters might be the only contact.
Times have changed, thankfully. With the internet and programs like Skype, daily contact is easy. Certainly air travel, with plenty of advance time, has become more affordable. Maybe a grandparent can’t be there for the birth of every grandchild, but they can read a bedtime story through the magic of Skype. Mailing a book to share is a great way to stay close, no matter what the age of the child. Make each grandchild feel special in their own rite; what one likes another may dispise, so pay attention and make each child and each moment with them a priority. If you had the experience of a good grandparent, think about what they did that made them special. I think you’ll find that it was the special attention they gave you. Think ahead–what will they remember? Do that.
I’m fortunate enough to live close to five of my six grandchild, and I actually find it easier at times to be closer to the one who lives the farthest away. As they get older, they get busier being kids and having less time for me. That’s okay because I know they know I am only a phone call away. No matter how old they get, I will also be Nana, a Nana who loves them unconditionally and abundantly.
Grandchildren are a gift. A blessing from God, unlike anything else. It’s like getting a gift that you invest in for the future. Being a good grandparent can be the most rewarding endeavor of your life, and can make an incredibly important impact on a child.