by Donna Carlson
If you are on the road a lot, the fact is you rarely get to see your grandkids. When you do see them, do you run out of ideas on how to entertain? Do you ever take them with you on a long haul? Help is on the horizon. www.iGrandparents.com is a great site to enhance long-distance relationships.
This is a dynamic site that brings together grandparents and interested others to share the joys of grandparenting and discuss the issues affecting grandparents today.
Your experience counts, and at this site you can share your wisdom with others. Granted, our hearts and minds are the true sources of our grandparenting skills, but there is still room for the computer and iGrandparents.com has used this technology to form a new community dedicated to grandparents.
The site is well organized, featuring a trim list of topics on the left side of the homepage. Links to other areas remain on the screen no matter what section you are reading (a helpful feature). Titles of timely topics and feature articles comprise the rest of the homepage. You must be a "member" to view some of the sections, but joining is free and reasonably simple.
Some of the topics covered have the potential to invite debate, such as the section on prayer in the "Values and Tradition" section or the discussions about protective custody and grandparents' visiting rights, but the site handles controversy well. Other topics are downright useful, giving details about how to childproof your home or an explanation of the tax implications of giving gifts or making loans to your grandchildren. The articles are written by acknowledged experts in their fields or are reprinted from reliable sources.
Kids, or even parents, will appreciate a grandparent who keeps in touch by picking up a funny saying, joke or greeting card on the site and e-mailing it to a grandchild right from the truck.
iGrandparents.com also has a chat room where people choose a topic and have their say either by leaving a message on the message board or using a chosen screen name to chat directly. Unsure about using either one? Clear directions will help you navigate. As people discuss a wide range of sensitive issues, problems and ideas, these chat sessions offer a valuable outlet for grandparents. Especially those who might not have others with whom to share concerns. You can read poignant stories and helpful hints in these opinion-driven sections (and the site's editors and contributors monitor them to see what today's grandparents are thinking about and what more the web site can do to help).
On the lighter side, iGrandparents.com has travel ideas, shopping, movie reviews and suggestions for activities that you can share with your grandkids. For instance on the travel site, web personnel have created trips to plan to learn about geography; something that's right up a trucker's alley. Also included are a number of travel-related puzzles to work and artwork to color. Admittedly, you have to find a printer to download artwork, but if this isn't an option, you can still view a favorite topic, organize a trip or read a travel story right in the cab.
Check out "Grandma Betty" activities while surfing the site. Grandma Betty explores the world of fables (some with real audio), tells riddles and constantly updates things to do with a grandchild. Betty's link also gives grandparents a 20 percent discount on all Oshkosh B'Gosh purchases of $75 or more if you use an American Express card.
If you are one of the 70 million grandparents living in the United States today, you'll find useful subjects among the well-written features and fun-to-do links.
iGrandparents.com is updated continually. Recently added features include interactive activity search guides and free homepages that will enable members to build their own electronic scrapbooks and photo albums. Other new features include a photo contest and designing special announcements - show off that new grandchild.
As a forum for exchanging ideas and information, sharing accomplishments, discussing concerns, or just reading a story to your grandchild, iGrandparents.com gets four stars.