Ideas for Long Distance Families, Part II

Continued from last week's Ideas for Long Distance Families, Part I (Note: All pictures in these posts are of Team Honduras kids with their grandparents).

6. Frequently send fridge art. Now that Claire is doing preschool work, I send the grandparents papers to decorate their refrigerator or office space. The mail from Honduras is slow, so sometimes I scan the artwork and email it. Scanned art makes a great desktop background for a proud grandparent.

5. Make a “Good Night Wall.” The hallway in our home (like many homes) is lined with photos of family members. When Claire was small, we made the “Good Night Wall” part of our bedtime routine: “‘Nite, Uncle Jonathan!” “’Nite, Aunt Kathleen!” This habit helps little ones match faces with names.

4. Pray daily for family members. Nothing brings two people closer than prayer. Children should pray for their family members by name, rotating nights to be sure everyone is mentioned. Show young children the “Special People Book” pictures so they’ll know exactly whom they are praying for.

Although Claire was rarely ill as a toddler, she was plagued by constant constipation; we made it a matter of prayer. After the problem was solved each time, we would thank God profusely! Around the time she was struggling with this problem, we found out my dad had cancer. We added him to our nightly prayer list, explaining that Papa was very sick and we needed to pray that he would get better. She solemnly agreed and launched into a prayer, “God, please help my Papa push out the poo-poo. Amen.” Thank goodness the Lord understood what “sickness” was to her little mind; He DID translate and answer that prayer, despite the stifled laughter from Momma and Daddy!

3. Tell stories about family members. Claire never tires of hearing how Grandma (as a teenager) drove a tobacco harvester into her uncle’s new barn or how Tia (Aunt Kathleen) had to eat green beans out of the trashcan when they were discovered hidden in her napkin. Stories about loved ones back home provide an instant connection for little minds.

2. Visits work both ways. It’s almost always more convenient for one family to travel to the other’s home. Many times, visits end up being very one-sided because of cost or practicality. However, a reasonable effort should be made for both families to make visits. If Grandpa never goes to visit Claire in Honduras, he won’t know her world. He needs to know her friends at church, where her backyard swing is, and which pet is her favorite. Just one short visit will reap rewards for months; now when they talk on the phone and Claire tells him, “I got to fingerpaint out on the porch today,” he can picture exactly where she was. It works both ways. If Grandpa tells Claire he raked leaves this afternoon, she needs to be able to picture him working under the tree where they played together one day last year.

1. Hold a “Cousins’ Camp.” I can’t claim this idea; my mom recently heard about “Cousins’ Camp” from her own cousin and said she would like to incorporate this idea one day (as soon as Claire gets some cousins!). Here’s how it works: Grandma and Grandpa set aside a week each summer to have all the grandchildren for a visit. No mommies and daddies allowed! They plan activities for the week and spend time getting to know each other. This idea works best for potty-trained children who are old enough to be away from their parents for a week. What an opportunity to create lasting memories!

Do you have some creative ideas for staying in touch? Be sure to post a comment!
2 Responses
  1. Gwen Says:

    Thanks so much for making us a part of Claire's life! I'm thankful we're not strangers to her, but very real to her. Those times she "leaved a message" on our phones are so special to us.

  2. Kimberly Henderson Grainger Says:

    Our kids have a tradition of "no parents allowed" phone calls w/their grandparents (Skype for you guys). It's to their great delight that I'll walk up, holding my cell, and announce, "Granny does NOT want to talk to me or Daddy! It's for you!" Elizabeth especially loves talking on the phone, and bless them, the grandparents are sooo long-suffering as she chatters on and on!
    Those videos you'd mentioned (from aunt and uncle) to my kids are one of my most treasured possessions! Mom decries her hairdos, but we have seven or eight years of videos, each sent on J.D.'s birthday, in which Mom and Dad sing, tell stories, and read books! The younger kids are enjoying them, now, especially since they were made before their births!
    Love to you all!
    Kimberly and co.

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