Everyone wins when children are able to develop close ties to their grandparents. Here are some ways that mothers can encourage a relationship between their parents or in-laws and their children.
* If grandparents live far away, consider starting a family blog. I have a blog that is only accessible to our extended family. I use it to upload current digital photos and notes about milestones and birthdays. When someone loses a tooth or makes a big tackle, photos go on the blog.
* We try to call faraway grandparents regularly and give each child a chance to talk. They love sharing their heart with grandma and grandpa. For the little ones, I sit near the phone so I can “interpret,” as it can be hard for grandparents to understand what they are saying. Older children can email their grandparents.
* We prioritize spending time together. We invite nearby grandparents on day trips or we get together for dinner. My mother-in-law lives far away, so she has often taken vacations with us. This gives the kids extra time with her and enables them to build special memories together. Most summers I take the kids and stay with her for a few weeks, even if my husband is not available to come along. Other times she comes here and spends extended time with us.
* My own mother lives nearby, having moved across the country to be near our family. She takes the children one at a time for overnight visits, in order to have one-on-one time with each of them.
* Let grandparents pass on their own skills and hobbies. My children have done woodworking and gone camping with their grandfathers.
* When we read a special book, we often send a copy to my dad for his birthday. The kids like knowing that grandpa is enjoying the same book they read.
* Older children can take time to serve their grandparents, raking leaves or helping run a garage sale. It is important that their relationship be “give and take,” not just “take”.
* Grandparents enjoy getting mail from their grandchildren. Have your child send a postcard from your vacation destination or a care package “just because.”
* Teach your children games that their grandparents enjoy. My kids love playing dominoes and rummy with their grandparents.
* If your children are involved in sports, make sure local area grandparents have a copy of the schedule. They may enjoy stopping by practice or watching the games, and your children will appreciate having one more fan in the stands.