- Text them at same time each day. Your grandkids will learn to anticipate your daily message, and parents will appreciate your checking in with them.
- Call them once a week—same day,same time each week. Or, how about a silly song on the telephone each morning as a wakeup call? They’ll moan and groan, but they’ll also never forget those morning calls.
- Skype video chat with each grandchild each week. Save this for late afternoon as the day is getting long, parents are not yet home, and the child might be vulnerable to mischief.
Don’t know what to say? Ask a lot of questions, but don’t be judgmental. What are you enjoying today? Tell me about your friends? What are you looking forward to? You might even ask a question or two that points toward faith, such as: Who was kind and caring to you today? To whom were you kind and caring today? How did you see God working today?
When you actually get to be with your grandchild(ren), bring along a “Grandma’s Toy Purse.” Take an old purse with lots of zippered compartments and put in small handheld games, little books, a small box of crayons, and small pieces of writing paper. Add a small flashlight and a small tape measure; two favorite toys of my preschool grandsons. Add some religious objects and story books for a faith component. My son who is now 34 years old fondly remembers the ritual of searching through Grandma’s Toy Purse and finding surprises. Works especially well in settings where the younger children need to be quiet.
If your grandchild(ren) has a digital camera ask them to take pictures of something that God created or of the most interesting objects or plants that they could find. Ask them to send you at least one new picture each week of summer. During a phone call, ask them about their pictures.
And of course, invite them for a visit. When my children were in elementary school they spent a week each summer with my parents. My mother planned special craft projects, games, and field trips for them. I am waiting for my grandchildren to be old enough to do the same. Then the ritual will become a family tradition.
Diane Shallue is Director of Christian Education and Small Group Ministries at University Lutheran Church of Hope, and lives in Blaine, Minnesota.