By the time their kids grow-up and leave home, parents finally figure-out that 90 percent of great parenting is simply showing-up. Of course, what works pretty well with the children naturally works spectacularly with the grand-children. Therefore, use all your talent, tactics, and technology to “be there” for your children’s children.
Because baby-boomers are proving “sixty is the new forty,” they are more actively engaged with their grandchildren than any generation before them. Of course, grandparents still spoil and indulge the grand-kids, because that’s their job; but, most of all, they send daily assurances of their love and admiration for all the little over-achievers. In fact, many grandparents admit they are a lot more loving and supportive of their scores of grand-children than they ever were with their own two or three children. Time, technology and maturity make it easier and more important than ever to stay connected across the generations
Grandma merges tradition with technology.
Keep family traditions alive and keep the family network buzzing. Use all your old-fashioned skills—like handwriting and the art of coherent paragraphs—to stay in-touch with the grandchildren; send letters, post cards, and greeting cards just like your own grandmother and grandfather did. Use your twenty-first century technology to keep the whole family abreast of everything that’s happening right now. Although the tools seem a little intimidating, their magic quickly inveigles you. You quickly discover how easily you can communicate with the entire extended family, and you will feel inspired to capitalize on all your computer's and the internet's advantages and features.
“Grandma’s got some pretty quick thumbs.”
Well-tutored by their teen-age children, grandparents have learned how to use all the advanced features on their cellphones. Most of all, grandparents can send text messages with skill, aplomb and grace equal to any self-respecting teen’s. Get the grand-kids where they live: Text them with your best wishes and love when they have tests in school, big games in youth sports, and especially when your intuition tells you they just need some love. A text is not quite as good as a shipment of homemade cookies, but it gets the job done when you have no time to bake.
"Hey, Grandma’s on Facebook!”
Create a family Facebook page, using it to stay up-to-the-second on everything happening in every grandchild’s life. Share millions of pictures and thoughts, and capitalize on the timeline feature to establish the big milestones in your own and your children’s lives, so that the grandchildren can see continuity from one generation to the next. Especially use the family Facebook page to transmit and reinforce family values.
Skype and Facetime
If you’re an iPhone or iPad aficionado, of course, the grandchildren will be more than a little impressed; but, most importantly, you will have opportunities to chat with the kids face-to-face. As long as you have some kind of web-cam—as every self-respecting grandparent must—then you can use Skype. Capitalize on the photo features to see your grandchildren in action. Ask them to take you on guide tours of their worlds, so that you can visualize their activities when you write to or text them. Of course, the grandparent handbook does not prohibit your showing the kids the finer features of your world, too.
Parents, use your tech tools to send your children’s major events to the grandparents in “live broadcasts.” If grandma and grandpa are still developing their technological skills, you can use old-fashioned cassette tapes to narrate soccer and softball games, school events and other big occasions. If your mother and father are as tech-savvy as you are, post family videos to YouTube; and if they are as sophisticated as most baby-boomers have become, then broadcast the kids’ events live via Twitter, making them immediate and fully interactive.
Welcome to “Grandma's Wonderful Web Museum.”
Instinct and intuition tell grandparents they must capitalize on their technology not only to share the family’s current events but also to transmit the family’s history. The Facebook page keeps you and all the grand-kids up-to-date right here and right now; create a complementary page for family history. In fact, create two pages—one on Ancestry.com or another genealogy chart, and the other on the blog site of your choice. Use the genealogy site to trace the family’s heritage as far back as you can. Use the blog site to pass-on family stories and artifacts, also seizing opportunities to post the grand-children’s greatest art, academic work and accomplishments.
Of course, the “oldies but goodies” still play well: “Snail mail” has become so exceptional in children’s lives that kids love the novelty of finding stuff in the low-tech mailbox. Try to send post-cards, notes, and pictures every week, and seize opportunities to request the best of the grand-children’s writing and artwork for inclusion in your scrapbook or for display in your online museum. Make a point of collecting great report cards. Every now and then, capitalize on the ease and speed of internet shopping to send little gifts to the grand-kids. Yes, the time-honored expression still holds, and it remains absolutely true that “it’s the thought that counts.” As the children grow into their teens, especially as grand-daughters come of age, you may begin sharing a few family heirlooms. Make sure, though, you attach stories and explanations to the heirlooms, so that you pass-on the sentiments along with the stuff. Most of all, seize opportunities to visit in-person. Nothing, absolutely nothing is more fun than delighting the grand-children and driving your own kids crazy.
Victoria Fricke is a freelance blogger for keek.com as well as an avid vlogger. She often recommends keek to other blogging or vlogging enthusiasts as one of the easiest ways to upload and update videos, even from your phone. Also, she often browses their Funny Videos section in her free time.