On Saturday, November 26, the EGPE (European Grandparents' School) invited us to a conference on "The art of making family at a distance. Grandparents and grandchildren in Europe". A morning of conferences with sociologists, teachers, lecturers, etc.

A distance reduced by new tools.

There is only 5% of intergenerational cohabitation in French cities. There is indeed a greater distance between seniors and their children as a result of the economic autonomy of seniors (the pension fund) and the desire of adults to change location for work.

But today, new communication tools allow grandparents to be closer to their grandchildren. So how to maintain a link through the screen?

A new way to be a grandparent.

"We only become grandparents through the goodwill of our children" Régine Florin, vice-president of the EGPE. Indeed, nothing can be done without the parent who will support the relationship between the grandparents and the grandchildren. With a little organization and creativity, a weekly appointment can be set up where the grandparent can interact with his or her grandchild. Whether it is to talk, play, do homework, or be a confidant, the grandparent can play an important role for the child, regardless of age[1]

[1] Note that screens before the age of 3 are not recommended unless they are interactive. It is therefore necessary to play with the child under the control of the parent.

A language barrier, a problem for international families 

More and more, families are dispersed around the world and it is sometimes difficult to keep a link (especially if the child's mother tongue is different). However, contrary to what we believe, human beings are made to speak several languages and children are able to differentiate between them from birth. It is therefore necessary to encourage parents to speak to them in each of their mother tongues and thus facilitate exchanges with grandparents. If the child makes a mistake, simply correct it with kindness.

However, learning is not only for the little ones. Seniors can also learn the native language of their grandchildren. It may take longer to assimilate, but these efforts can be used for new activities with the grandchildren.

This is only a glimpse of the different interventions of the conference. Thank you to EGPE for inviting us to the Hôtel de Ville de Paris for these 4 hours of conferences on long distance grandparenting. We were able to discuss with several grandparents about their experiences and they all have different visions of their role as grandparents. Instructive exchanges that show that we can all be grandparents in our own way.