Being a grandparent is not the same thing as being a parent. When your grandchildren are born, you won't automatically know what to do, how to behave around them and what your role in their life is. And if you don't live in the same city, grandparenting can be especially tough. Here are some tips for connecting with your grandchildren and maintaining a good relationship with them.
1. Get to know them early. Don't wait until your grandkids grow up to get to know them, be a part of their life since they day they were born. It is especially important when you're a long-distance grandparent. Learn things about them and listen attentively when they tell you something. The more you know about them, the closer you will be.
2. Connect with their parents. If you want to have a good relationship with your grandchildren, you need to get along with your own children and children-in-law. It is the grandchildren's parents who get to decide if you can maintain contact with your grandkids and how much time you get to spend with them.
3. Don't let your relationship with your granchildren's parents affect your relationship with your grandkids. When you're mad at your own children or children-in-law, remember that your grandkids have nothing to do with it. Don't let tensions within your family make things awkward between you and your grandchildren.
4. Learn to use technology. This tip is primarily for long-distance grandparents. If you don't get to see your grandchildren often, use phone, e-mail and Skype to talk to them. Of course, it can't replace seeing them in person, but talking on the phone or onine is much better than not communicating at all. And when you finally get together, your grandchildren won't need time to start feeling comfortable around you because they talk to you often.
5. Take a lot of pictures. When you're spending time together, take a lot of pictures to capture the memories. You can even make a family scrapbook with your grandchildren. Doing something together will make you closer.
6. Send them surprises. We aren't saying that you should spoil your grandkids with gifts. But sending them small surprises such as post cards or cookies will let them know that you're thinking about them even when you're not around.
7. Find a shared interest. The inevitable age difference between you and your grandchildren doesn't mean that you can't read the same books, watch the same movies and have common interests. Find something you can bond over.
8. Don't play favorites. You may see some of your grandchildren more often than others (because they live closer, for example), but that doesn't mean that you should love them more. When all of your grandchildren come to visit or when you meet during family gatherings, make sure no one feels left out.
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