My friend Gerry told me a story recently that really had an impact on me. His daughter, who lives three states away with her kids, called to report that Gerry’s 14-year old grandson Marco won a trophy at the lacrosse tournament the day before.
“I know,” Gerry said.
“But, Dad,” his daughter asked, “how could you know?”
“Marco Skyped me last night to show me his trophy.”
As a grandparent of little ones, my heart soared at the thought that I would be the one my grands would want to show a trophy to someday – and that someday the kids could start the video chat without parents needing to be involved.
Gerry and his grandson have a long-distance relationship that is strong and important to both of them. But it didn’t start when Marco turned 14. Gerry has been involved in his grandkids’ lives even though they have always lived a plane ride away.
The good news: you absolutely can have a great relationship with your grandchildren. Attitude and resolve are so important! The time that you give to establishing a good relationship in a child’s formative years is well spent. A child who starts out feeling very connected to a grandparent will typically carry this relationship into future years. For many of us, that connection is through in-person visits occasionally — and Skype, Facebook, Google Duo, Zoom, or Facebook Portal most of the year. Learning to connect with video chat makes all of you comfortable with this form of communication for years to come.
The very important news: no procrastination, please. What you do in these early years is extremely important in setting the stage for the future. While your grandchildren may not retain specific memories from these years, their feelings and impressions of you have already started. You only need to think of your own grandparents to realize that your overall impressions (Grandma was warm and kind or cold and unapproachable, Grandpa was fun or a perfectionist, etc.) are what matters, yet each impression was formed as you spent time with them.
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