The Not-So-Grand Side of Long Distance Grandparenting

written by Cavin Harper
4 · 24 · 23

“My two grandsons, who live far away, have no interest in knowing who I am. How do I pray for them and find a way to connect?” The pain behind this grandmother’s question is real and not at all uncommon. There are many of us with teenage or young adult grandchildren with whom we find it increasing difficult to stay connected. How should we pray about situations like this? What can we do to build meaningful connections with them?

While there are no one-size-fits-all formulas for painful situations with older grandchildren, may I be so bold as to suggest a few actions steps I believe can help us pray as we ought, and that will increase the possibility of re-establishing those meaningful connections we so desire with our grandchildren? 

Before I share those suggestions with you, one brief thought worth pondering. Peter exhorts believers in 2 Peter 1:5 to “make every effort to add to your faith… those things that keep us from forgetting what is true and from becoming “nearsighted and blind.” What things? Things like goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. If these are not evident in our lives in an ever-increasing manner, that may be the reason our grandchildren are not interested in a close relationship.

William Barclay’s paraphrase of this verse may be helpful to us. He says the more complete translation of this verse ought to be, “bend all your energy to the task of equipping your faith” with these things. In other words, while God has already given us everything we need for life and godliness, we must put all our energy into continually strengthening that faith in Christ if our lives are going to be productive

If these things Peter outlines are increasingly visible in our lives and the faith we profess, then these four action steps could open doors for us with our grandchildren:

  1. Pray Wisely.
    1. Don’t ask God to change them or their heart towards you. Ask God to reveal anything in you that may hinder them from wanting to connect with you… then be quiet and listen to what God reveals.
    2. Ask God to keep them from the evil one, and to bring people into their lives who compassionately live out and speak truth.
    3. Pray Scriptures over them (click here to download 31 Scriptures to Pray)
  1. Occasionally send cards, written notes, or text messages. Make sure they are messages of encouragement and blessing and let them know you are daily praying for them. In fact, ask them regularly how you could pray for them. Caveat: Avoid preachiness, or sending messages that could be perceived as judgmental or critical—attempts to lay a guilt trip on them. Remember self-control and brotherly kindness? Allow the Spirit of God do any convicting that needs to be done.
  2. Engage with their world. Learn to ask questions that show you care about them. For example, what are things they enjoy doing, what are their interests, what do they think about some of the issues in the world? Then listen… don’t react. (See caveat above)
  3. When the opportunity is right, share your story. You might be surprised how interested they will be in your story, as long as you’re not telling it with an ulterior motive. When questions arise, answer thoughtfully, honestly, and graciously.

While distance may make it more challenging to connect, distance is not the barrier that keeps us from meaningful relationships. We are. The real barriers may have more to do with how we communicate. Do they sense that we are safe—that they can talk with us about tough things without condemnation? James exhortation to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” is a good word for all our relationships, including those with our grandchildren of all ages.

May God give us wisdom and the courage to act on that wisdom.

GRANDPAUSE: An obstacle is often an unrecognized opportunity. – Unknown

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Cavin Harper


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1 Comment

  1. Jere

    Great job on getting some wonderful point about this important topic


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