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Thoughts on letters for grandchildren

4 posts in this topic

Just finished getting my March letters out. As I wrote, I thought about how much easier it has become than it was when I started nearly 12 years ago. Not easier as in physically easier, but easier as in, I have developed a routine. This month, I included the four grandchildren of a friend, and since I don't often write to them, it was a little harder than usual and it occurred to me that it might be helpful to hear about a system, for those folks whose grandchildren have just moved away - or who have just learned that their adult children will be having a child far from home.

As I said, I write to each of them once per month, but I don't start until they turn two years old. Before that, I send cards for the holidays, but honestly, that's for me and for their parents. Babies have no understanding of letters.

When they are two, I send postcards or letters on brightly coloured heavy card that can be carried around, chewed on, dropped in the toilet, and whatever else a toddle might inflict upon it, and still stand up to a certain amount of the abuse. A sentence or two for the parent to read to them is enough, and I send a laminated photo every few months (odds are, the last one is behind the lounge or at the bottom of the sandbox, but just in case, I try to send a different one.) to help the little ones associate the letter with a face. If you can draw, a little picture - maybe a cartoon self-portrait? a little drawing of their pet? - makes the letter more interesting for them to look at. If like me, drawing isn't a strength, you can always decorate the letter with colourful stickers.


Dear Robin, 

Hello! I have been thinking about you and I miss your smile.

I love you!

hugs and kisses , 


Variations on the theme every month work just fine. It's not poetry, but it starts the communication habit.  If you happen to have heard of anything that you can mention, that's fabulous! But length of memory being what it is, I find that there's little until they are 5 or 6 that will still be relevant by the time the letter arrives. Holidays are always good for a comment ... "are you and Mummy going to see the Easter bunny this year?" "What was your favorite part of Christmas this year?" etc. Again, you don't need to be Shakespeare, or write beautifully.  Say in writing what you would have said in person.

* Use their name! Always. We love hearing our names,especially as children.  It makes a connection much more easily than anything else.

* if there are siblings, don't write to them all on the same day.  It will be easier to personalise your letters instead of writing the same letter over and over again if you write one per day and then mail them all at the same time. The odds are good with pre-schoolers that a parent will be reading the letters aloud, one after another, so the repetition will be most obvious with pre-schoolers.

* If there are several families, try organising the envelopes in age order. Two three-year-olds in different households can get similar letters without noticing, and so you can cover two or three in the same day without concern about repetition. Also, practice with the simpler letters makes working my way to to the teenagers easier - by the time I get there, I have far more idea what I want to talk about.

*after the age of five or six, your letters can include old photos, with short family stories.  One of a grandparent's most important roles in the family is to weave the child into the tapestry of the family. We naturally do that as we spend time with them.  If we can't spend as much time with them as we want to, we can tell those stories in writing, with photos.  They might even become "heirlooms", if you make your adult child sound good. :P 

I have sent photos of my adult children with me and with their fathers.  I have also send photos of my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, and told short stories about who those people are (were).

* send snapshots of your day-to-day life - your pets, your hobbies, your home - and tell little stories about the photos.


Dear Pat, 

I have sent you a photo of me in my garden. Look how dirty my face is!! I'll bet you didn't know that grandmas like to play in the dirt, too! And look, there's my little dog, Frances, helping me to dig up the potatoes. I think Frances just likes to dig holes - she never seems to be interested in the potatoes.

Have you played in the dirt today, Pat? What did you do? Was it fun?

I love you and I miss you, my angel, 

hug and kisses


Notice that although you will probably never hear the answers, asking questions draws the child into an interaction with your letter.

A note from my children - although I was inclined to mail all the letters together in one enveloped, both to save money and to ensure that one letter didn't go astray, several mothers have mentioned to me that "mail day" is far more exciting when each child has his or her own mail to open. Now you know.


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Interesting ideas, Misti! I especially love the way the second letter relates to the child and how she likes to play!

Meanwhile, I've sent you a PM (personal/private message). To find it, just click on the the envelope icon in the upper right corner of the page. Thank you. :)

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I applaud your creativity and your dedication. As I age I get a better understanding of the power of connection. I especially like that you find interesting and general ways to connect. I can tell GrandmaMisti is fun! Like the MasterCard commercial, what you are doing is priceless. Thanks for the ideas.

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Posted (edited)

14 hours ago, upsidedownhugchamp said:

I can tell GrandmaMisti is fun! 

I am amused by the coincidence your comment makes.  I am the oldest grandparent on one side of my family, and yet, (I have recently learned) that in that family (even though I am Grandpop's second wife, and not biologically related) I am known as "the fun grandma".   :D In fairness, the others are all ill, and I have my health, so I can run amok with five little boys, running in circles and shouting, where the others simply can't.

I'm growing rather attached to being "the fun grandma" - I'd better keep eating my spinach!  :rofl:

Edited by GrandmaMisti
left out an important phrase

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