Julie and I are leaving shortly for a trip to Chicago to visit our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter for a week. Living several states away has been a challenge for all of us, but especially for the grandma and grandpa who miss their year-old granddaughter terribly. And while I haven’t personally experienced being separated from little children of my own by many miles, I can imagine the heartache that dads must feel, whether they are divorced, in the military, or otherwise separated from the kids.
Reach Out and Touch Them on the Phone. Talking regularly on the telephone is a common and positive way of staying in touch.
Take and Share Digital Shots. Pictures can help distant family members stay in touch. Whether they are emailed or posted to a family picture web page, digital pictures can get photos back and forth easily and inexpensively.
Speaking of E-mail. I have found the best way to communicate with my college aged daughter going to school away from home is via email. I try to send her email cards from time to time, just when she least expects them, and to send an upbeat “what’s new at home” email every week or two.
We still talk on the phone, but e-mail adds another dimension to our relationship.
Ponder Postcards. One of the things some of my contacts said about postcards was that they are quick, easy and fun. They have the personal touch of a handwritten note, but they also don’t have to be long and involved. They are especially fun when you are traveling for business or pleasure and come from wherever you are.
Videos Can Be Fun. At Christmastime, our family still at home made a video for our granddaughter. We bought some little books for her for Christmas, and then each of us took a turn reading the books on video for her. Now when her mom gets out one of the books, she puts on the video and can follow along with grandpa, grandma or one of the uncles or aunts as they read to her. Combining a picture with a voice can really help the kids feel close and connected with you.
Surprise Gifts. One of my friends tries to find a little trinket (stuffed animal, poster, cute socks) and send it along with a note every month or so to a daughter who lives far away. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and it is always a nice surprise for her.
Get the Book. One of my friends ordered a phone book from the community where his kids live (or you could find information online) and orders pizza or other goodies to be delivered to his kids. I loved this idea because it was easy and creative, and lets the kids know that dad is thinking about them regularly.
Whatever your strategy, staying in touch when you are far away is important for dads and grandfathers. The relationships you build under less than ideal circumstances will communicate your love and concern all year long.