Frugal ways to strengthen the connection

Develop Close Relationships with Your Grandchildren

by Karen Kuebler

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As a grandmother of twelve, I have found it challenging at times to develop a close relationship with some of my grandchildren. We live in a remote location with the closest grandchild 800 miles away. Being the frugal person that I am, I've needed to use my imagination to be resourceful and find ways that will allow us to strengthen our connections to our grandchildren. Time goes by so quickly, and our oldest granddaughter just married. Before we know it, we'll be great grandparents! In this article, I have captured ideas that might help you to build stronger relationships with your grandchildren without wreaking havoc on your budget:

  1. If both you and your grandchildren have access to email (or Facebook for your teen grandchildren), send short emails or messages at least once a week. It is a quick and effective way to keep in touch. Find websites that pertain to special interests and hobbies of each child and send the links in an email. Send special e-cards for free. You don't need a special occasion to send a "Thinking of You" card.
  2. Pick up brochures from National Parks, museums, and other special events that you attend. Send along with short notes sharing the highlights of these events for you.
  3. Snip articles, puzzles, comic strips, and jokes from your local newspaper that might interest your grandchildren. If you don't subscribe to the newspaper, ask your neighbor to pass their newspaper to you when they are finished.
  4. Gather information about your hometown from your local Chamber of Commerce. Write a letter sharing some of your favorite spots in town and/or highlight the information on the literature and make little notes in the margins.
  5. Develop a questionnaire to send to your grandchildren with simple fill in questions and include a SASE. This will make it easy for the child to complete and return the questionnaire informing you of what they have been up to. Ask simple questions such as favorite class, best thing that happened to them this week, what hobby they have been pursuing most recently, etc. Change the questions to obtain new and different information each time.
  6. Have you started preparing for retirement?
    Our pre-retirement checklist will walk you through the steps you need to take.

  7. One way to really boost the self-esteem of your grandchildren is to seek their input on a situation or problem that you are grappling with. This is much easier to do with older grandchildren. You would be amazed at the wise input you will receive from somebody who isn't twisted and tied up in the issue, and also views the world from a less complex standpoint than adults usually do.
  8. For younger grandchildren, purchase storybooks and recoed yourself reading them. Children will enjoy following the story with Grandma and Grandpa reading and personalizing with little sidebars.
  9. Expert Interview: Lifestyle Changes to Consider Before Taking In a Grandchild

  10. Collect inspirational quotes and stories that resonate with you when you read them. Over the year, create a small journal capturing these special thoughts in writing. Send your Grandchildren the journal at the end of the year, and create a special title for it.

Remember your objectives, and you will realize that you don't have to spend a lot of money or "buy" the love of your grandchildren. My personal objectives are to get to know my grandchildren better, have them get to know me better, demonstrate an interest in their activities and hobbies, know more about their day to day lives, and develop common interests that we can build on over time. It has taken me several years to find different ways to achieve these objectives, but I have discovered it can be done!

Take the Next Step:

  • Trying to connect with teen grandkids? Try a few of these affordable activities grandparents can do with teen grandkids.
  • Use this tool to maximize your retirement by determining the best age to take your Social Security benefits. Don't leave thousands on the table by taking Social Security at the wrong time.
  • Subscribe to After 50 Finances. You've learned how to work smarter, not harder. This weekly newsletter is dedicated to people just like you. Subscribers get a FREE copy of our After 50 Finances Pre-Retirement Checklist, a list of everything you need to do to be ready for retirement.

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