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How grandparents can offer loving support to grandchildren

My grandchildren live in Florida and California.

How can grandparents who live far from their grandchildren be supportive?

A family plan is needed on how grandparents can help out, Dr. Arthur Kornhaber, founder of the Foundation for Grandparenting, told me in an interview. Kornhaber recommends that expecting parents have a family conference with the grandparents before the baby is born.

Kornhaber, a child and family psychiatrist who conducts research on grandparents, suggests setting up a family team that offers children loving support from their grandparents and gives the parents the practical and emotional support they need to do the best job possible.

In the meeting and later, grandparents need to be accepting of the way their children want to raise the grandchildren.

"The proof is in the pudding," he says. "If the baby is happy, that's good. If not, a discussion is in order."

When a major issue arises, the grandparent should bring it up in a positive way.

On grandparents who live far away, Kornhaber says family resources should be discussed during the family meeting. When the babies are young, they need lots of time with their grandparents.

"If grandchildren don't see their grandparents, there are emotional and spiritual costs," he says.

When the grandchildren are older, if the parents have more financial resources, the children can go to the grandparents. If the grandparents have more money, they can come to see the children.

Kornhaber says it's important for children to see the bond between their parents and grandparents. And, if a divorce occurs, a parent dies, or a parent can't raise the child, the strong family coalition that has been developed can help the family through painful, complex times.

"The Grandparent Solution: How Parents Can Build a Family Team for Practical, Emotional, and Financial Success" is Kornhaber book on how parents can form a family arrangement that offers the child loving support from their grandparents and that gives the parents support.

He also has written "The Grandparent Guide: The Definitive Guide to Coping with the Challenges of Modern Grandparenting."

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