Are you a lonely Long-Distance Grandparent?

written by Lillian Penner
3 · 28 · 22
I have an answer to the challenge of long-distance grandparenting.

I was a frustrated, lonely long-distance grandparent with little involvement in the lives of my grandchildren since they were 1,000 miles away. However, God showed me how I could impact my grandchildren’s lives by purposefully praying for them whether they lived nearby or far away.

When my adult grandchildren were young, we lived far apart. However, when we would visit, we stayed with their family and spent a lot of time with them. Now we live close to our younger grandchildren, but we don’t get to spend much time with them since they are busy with their studies and various activities. It feels as if I spent more time with the grandkids when we visited them, seeing them only once or twice a year.

I’ll be honest: I envy grandmothers who float in and out of their grandchild’s daily activities.

Perhaps you know your grandchild’s friends and are on a first-name basis with his teacher. You might even attend soccer games and school concerts. Although there’s undoubtedly a downside to babysitting or living near grandchildren, that sounds terrific to a long-distance grandma like me. That said, those of us who are geographically challenged can still have a meaningful relationship with our grandchildren. 

Here are six ideas that worked for me to connect with a long-distance grandchild: 
  1. Develop a list of “topics to talk about.” Dig back through old emails and texts for conversation starters. The content won’t merely offer discussion triggers but often reveal ideas for birthday gifts or items of interest. This is especially helpful if you rarely see each other.
  2. Provide prayer cover. Although you might do this every day, make a special effort when your grandchild is prepping for a big test or important game. Before the event, pray with them over the phone. 
  3. Send postcards of places you visited together. Months after visiting the zoo or museum, mail a card from that site. Even digital kids appreciate snail mail addressed to them. The card will be a friendly reminder of a memory you made together.
  4. Arrange reverse mail. Purchase an inexpensive pack of blank postcards. Pre-address envelopes with your address and add a stamp. Ask your grandchild to draw a picture, add stickers or write a note before sending the card to you. Start with just a couple of cards to assess your grandchild’s response.
  5. Mail surprises. When our grandsons were very young, I would tell their mom a b-o-x was in the mail. One of the first words the boys learned to spell was b-o-x. They soon realized that a package with books, inexpensive toys, and trinkets was on the way. A grandma must have developed those flat-rate USPS boxes:  regardless of how many heavy books you cram inside, it ships for a fixed rate if the box seals. 
  6. Text or ZOOM call your grandchildren. Ask them how you can pray for them, or in the case of younger ones, ask their parents how you can pray for them.

Our children grew up quickly, but our grandchildren seem to grow even faster. The digital age has made keeping in touch more accessible than ever, but living in a mobile society implies many lead separate lives.

Relationship experts emphasize the value of the grandchild-grandparent connection. Each cross-generational experience adds depth and meaning to the family memory bank. Intentionally reaching across the miles can deepen the heart connections and remind us to thank God for the bonus blessing of a grandchild. I hope the ideas presented here will be useful to you in maintaining a strong relationship with grandchildren across the miles.

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Lillian Penner

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Comments

1 Comment

  1. Donna Jeanne Schneider

    This is so very helpful as we have 13 grandchild ren in 3 states and in Germany!!

    Reply

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