This guest post is by DeeDee Moore, the founder of More Than Grand. On her More Than Grand blog and Instagram, DeeDee covers topics that matter to grandparents—and parents—such as concrete ways to help new parents, understanding new trends in child care, and meaningful ways to connect with your grandchildren.
Whether you live across the world from your grandchildren or just next door, the act of putting pen to paper holds a powerful force for creating meaningful connections with your grandchildren. True, today’s technology allows us to see and hear our grandchildren instantly no matter where they are in the world. However, the simple act of writing a letter can nurture your relationship with your grandkids in ways that no phone call, email or text message ever could.
Letters are an easy way to create a strong and lasting bond. Even before your grandkids are old enough to communicate, your letters are physical proof that you are thinking of them. As they get older, stories, memories, and details from your life are a way to engage and entertain your grandkids. Exchanging letters is a wonderful way to get to know one another better.
In addition to being a way to keep in touch, letters are educational! They can help grandchildren learn about family history and experiences, and can also help them improve their reading and writing skills.
How to Write a Letter to Your Grandchildren
To begin with, don’t overthink the process. Your letters don’t need to be long, or perfectly written. You can write on notebook paper or special stationery you only use for this purpose. You can send a postcard with an inspirational quote or drawing or compose a letter on your laptop, then print and send it. In other words, do whatever feels easiest, most fun, or most meaningful to you. (For ideas on how to make your letters more fun, read this post over on More Than Grand.)
The part of writing letters that is sometimes the hardest is actually doing it. I highly recommend putting a recurring reminder on your calendar. If your grandchild’s birthday is on the 12th of the month, set a date to write on the 12th of every month. Or set aside an hour every first Saturday for letter writing. Like any new habit, you’ll need to be intentional to keep it going.
Tips for Writing to Grandchildren of Every Age
Letters to grandchildren under five
Before your grandchild can read and write, your letters themselves are not going to be very interesting to them. But this is a great time to start the habit! If your grandchild is very young, you may want to write your letters and keep them somewhere safe, or ask the parents to do so. To introduce your grandchildren to the concept of writing back to you, you can do any or all of these things:
- Send them coloring pages to color and mail back to you.
- Write a note about a recent conversation or visit and what you liked about it. Even though they won’t be writing back, ask them questions so they recognize the opportunity for two-way communication.
- Send them stamped, self-addressed postcards to draw on and send to you.
Letters to school-aged grandchildren
Once children are old enough to read and write and understand the passage of time, they will start to appreciate all the stories you share. As they get older, your letters can be an important way to get to know one another. You can begin to pose questions in your letters, asking them to call or write you with their answers. Send them notepaper and stamps, even addressing the envelopes until they are old enough to do so themselves.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get responses, however. Keep writing and asking, so they know you are interested in their lives.
Letters to teenage grandchildren
As your grandchild becomes a teenager, continue to ask questions. Start to share more of the wisdom you’ve gained about life. Offer encouragement and share stories about struggles you had as a teen. Teenagers still love stories about their parents and aunts or uncles. Whatever you do, keep writing. Teens need to know that there are adults in their lives who will be there for them no matter what.
What to Write if You Aren’t a Long-Distance Grandparent
Just because your grandchildren live close enough for frequent visits doesn’t mean there isn’t room for written exchanges. In addition to the ideas above, there are some special ways to engage your nearby grandkids.
- Leave a note on their pillow when you’re at their house.
- Start a message jar: Take a pretty jar (or just a mason jar!) and put a message for them in it before they arrive. Have a pen and paper nearby so they can leave a message for you after reading it.
- Enlist their help when you write notes to friends and family members, or help them send valentines to cousins.
- Start an interactive journal: take a blank book and share your thoughts on an aspect of your life with them, then let them take it home to share their thoughts and feelings with you. This is especially good for teens!
Writing letters is a way to start a special tradition with your grandchildren. Through this time-tested form of communication, you have the opportunity to impart wisdom, share cherished memories, and create a bond that will last a lifetime. So pick up your pen and get started!