A strong relationship with your grandchildren deserves thoughtful planning.
As I shared in the January newsletter, having a grandparent vision statement allows us to commit to the relationship with our grandchildren in an intentional, meaningful way. It reminds us of what we really hold important, and acts as a starting point for creating the relationship we want. It allows us to move past the idea of “spoiling” our grandchildren to a place of true connection.
Over the last couple of weeks, I shared some tips on how to write your vision statement and talked about the importance of sharing it with your grandchildren’s parents. Now I want to talk about how to actually achieve the goals you set in your vision. As Antoine de Saint Exupery said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” It’s time to make that plan.
Part of the vision process I shared was to brainstorm ways to achieve the goals you set for yourself. Revisiting my example there, I pledged “To instill the importance of family by conveying how important they are to me.” Here are some ways I plan to do that:
I make sure my calendar is clear each day at the time my grandchildren are having lunch, knowing that I will likely get a FaceTime call. While there is an occasional day it doesn’t work on one of our ends, by not making other commitments during this time I show my family that they are my priority.
Another grandmother I know has a notebook she keeps near the computer. In it, she records important things: names of her grandchildren’s friends, a movie they mentioned they were excited to watch, what days they have soccer practice. This way, she has details at hand when they are video chatting, and her grandchildren know she’s been paying attention.
Look at the goals in your vision statement and think about the details it will take to achieve them. What resources will you need, in the way of time, money and materials? Want to instill a love of music in your grandchild? Make a list of music you want them to hear; use planning time to search for concerts to take them to or to download your favorite pieces to share with them. Maybe you want to set aside funds to pay for music lessons or buy a guitar. For every goal, list all the activities and resources you can think of to keep it from being just a wish.
Planning for connection is especially important when grandchildren live far away. Set aside time not just for virtual time together, but for preparation. Use Sunday afternoons or Thursday evenings—or whatever works for you—to find library books to read, write notes to send, and look for jokes to share. (The Long Distance Grandparent Society has helped me immensely in making sure I always have something to send, something to say, and something to play!)
For many grandparents, just being available is enough. If that fits with your vision statement, then maybe you don’t need to spend much time planning. But if there are specific things you want to accomplish in your relationship with your grandchildren, you need to do more. Write down what those things are, and then make your plan to reach your goals.