When it is going well, grandparents can provide a child with a sense of family history, a different perspective on who you are as their parent and an additional attachment relationship. There are so many ways to stay connected.
- Make vists as welcoming as possible – For a relationship to grow, they need time together. Time together means visits and phone calls. Ideally, children will see their grandparents often and throughout the year.
- Travel together – When we can, we’ve made it a point to meet extended family away from home. Sharing a house at the beach or having adjoining hotel rooms can give people time together with no one having the pressure to host.
- Skype, text, email, facebook – This may take some technological effort on your part from both ends, but there are an increasing number of ways for people to stay connected. It makes my heart happy that my oldest daughter and my dad just became friends on facebook.
- The mail – When our girls were younger, my parents sent postcards from everywhere they went. A little later, my oldest and my parents sent a craft project back and forth, each working a little at a time.
- Keep pictures out – Having family photos and scrap books is a small but easy way to stay connected.
When it is not going well, there are several guidelines to keep in mind.
- They would risk themselves – A mom once told me this is how she keeps her mother-in-law issues in perspective, she reminds herself that in the whole world grandparents are likely the only other ones that would risk their lives for your child.
- Weigh how often they visit – If grandparents only visit two weekends a year, deciding boundaries and working out issues is a very different thing than if they are your 20 hours a week childcare. A child missing naps or eating extra cookies is likely something you can let go a few days a year but not several days a week.
- Decide if it’s health and safety – A grandparent that spanks, and you are headset against, can quickly become an issue even if they are just together a handful of times. Health and safety issues should be discussed.