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Building The Grandparent and Grandkid Connection from Afar

Is distance or baby boomers' busy lives getting in the way of your parents having a rich relationship with your children? Here are tips to bridge the gap between junior and grandma and grandpa.

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Online sharing

Besides trying to connect in real time, you can give grandparents a play-by-play look at your kids' lives through various online channels. On Metro Parent's Facebook page, several parents said they used privacy settings on social media platforms like Facebook and Flickr, so that only family could see the photos they post of kids.

Along with milestone events like school plays and piano recitals, make sure to take pictures of everyday moments for grandparents to enjoy, too. If your kids are old enough, let them use your smartphone to take pictures to send to grandparents with messages. You can post these pictures either through texts, Facebook, Flickr or even email.

Teens texting grandparents

Take a look at my teen's cell phone and you'll find that, along with her BFF, she trades a steady stream of texts with her grandma. For many teens, texting has allowed them to form relationships with their grandparents in ways they wouldn't be able to otherwise. A 2012 study from AARP and Microsoft Corp. found that more and more social technologies are helping teens and grandparents grow closer.

  • Of those surveyed (ranging in age from 13 to 75 years old), 83 percent consider going online to be a helpful form of communication among family members.
  • Thirty percent of grandparents of teens/young adults agree that connecting online has helped them better understand their teen/young adult grandchildren, and 29 percent of teens/young adults say the same about their grandparents.
  • Teens agree that the computer increases both the quantity (70 percent) and quality (67 percent) of their communication with family members living far away.

Connecting on paper

Technology isn't the only answer when it comes to reaching out to grandparents. For Cheff, pairing good old-fashioned mail with Skype chats and phone calls helped her kids grow closer to grandparents.

Don't forget that mail – and not the electronic kind – still holds special appeal to most kids. They can wrap up school art projects, create pictures or write letters to send to grandparents. Unlike online conversations, kids can hang on to the letters they exchange with grandparents and read them over again whenever they want.

When the return package comes from the grandparents, Cheff's kids love to read through the messages together.

"My 7-year-old will read hers and then read the message for her younger sister," says Cheff. "They have this little bonding moment."

Easy mementos for grandparents

Kodak recently updated its in-store photo-generating kiosks so that you can create prints and gifts for grandparents from pictures on your smartphone and Facebook.

Kiosks are located at various area CVS and Target stores. Download their apps to find the closest store to you.

Once you're at the store, the app enables the kiosk to tap into your stored pictures and your Facebook account. You can sort through, select and edit any of the images you want. Create photo books, greeting cards, calendars and more with a few clicks.

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