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How to stay close to grandchildren who have a busy schedule

Even spending a week with Grandma can help strengthen relationships in ways that are harder to achieve on fly-over visits, and somewhat compensates for the distance.

In the fifth or sixth grade, many children have cell phones and the younger ones can send messages via a tablet or computer; they no longer need parents as facilitators or mediators.

So at least once a week, Betsy Buchalter Adler and her husband text their 14-year-old grandson, who lives hours from their home in Pacific Grove, California. “With a phone call, he has to answer,” she explained. “With a text, we don’t interrupt. They keep their jokes light and pleasant, sometimes including memes and photos; he answers when he wants.

“We want him to know that we support him, and texting is the least intrusive way to show him that,” Ms. Adler said.

Other grandparents mentioned using WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and Skype to stay in touch.

One word of caution: Parents set the rules for children’s devices, and we must follow them. “We want parents to feel comfortable with the role that grandparents play and not be skeptical,” advised Dr Dunifon.

If the grandchildren aren’t available to come see you, that doesn’t mean you can’t spend time together. Lynches show up at games, recitals, concerts – regardless of their grandchildren. They applaud, express their pride and take the kids out for a meal or a treat afterwards.

Entering the world of children works particularly well with common interests. Ms Reece confessed that her attempt to learn the video game Minecraft, a favorite of her 11-year-old grandson in St. Petersburg, Fla., Had failed completely. But he loves to take pictures and sends her the ones he is particularly proud of; they both follow a favorite photographer on Instagram. When they are together, ordinary walks become photo excursions. The framed photos she sent as a Christmas present are now hanging in her bedroom.

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