Grandparent Long Distance

My grandchildren live far away from me. How can I stay an active part of their lives?

DARCY KIMMEL: If you’re a grandparent and your grandchildren live maybe in another state, sometimes in another country, you feel a little bit disconnected. But you know, there’s no reason why you can’t be present-tense in your grandchildren’s lives.

TIM KIMMEL: And on top of that, you want to be. You need to be. They need you as part of their life.

It’s real easy when they’re on another time zone that we just see them for the major holidays, and we just drop off a card for them with a check on their birthdays. But no, no, no. We need to have an ongoing relationship with their heart, and we need to give you a few pointers on how you can do that from a distance.

DARCY: From a distance. Our granddaughters just live a mile and a half from us, but they love getting mail. Whether we’re out of town and we send a postcard to them, or I just write a little note and put it in our mailbox to go a mile and a half away, they love to get a letter, so don’t give up letter-writing.

And then, you’ve got to get computer savvy.

TIM: If you aren’t already.

DARCY. If you aren’t already, because email is a wonderful thing, and kids are on their email accounts all the time. You might even want to set up a special time during the week where you can instant message each other, and it’s just like having a conversation, and they love to tap away.

TIM: And you can text them at great times to let them know that you’re thinking about them, that you love them, that you’re proud of them. Or maybe they’re under some great stress, you know, they just had a major test a the university, or they’re not doing as well as they thought, or they broke up with their boyfriend or girlfriend, or they just got fired. This is when they need to hear from a grandmother or a grandfather, to let them know, “Hey, I believe in you. Life’s going on. Life’s big. You’re going to play a major part in it, and I love you like mad.” Because these are the kinds of things that keep them connected at the heart.

DARCY: That’s right.

Your cellphone? You probably have unlimited long distance minutes. If you don’t, you should get them. Call them on the phone. They love to talk on the phone, even if they are little. They can pick up the phone and talk to Nanna or Poppa.

You can send digital photos across the email. You could even set up a family webpage, or maybe they already have a webpage, and post photos on there. There’s just innumerous things that you can do online.

TIM: But nothing beats face-to-face. And this is where you’ve got to plan your life around making sure you have good contact with those grandkids, that you see them at major events, you know, the high points of their life, and then you plan your year, your calendar around seeing them at vacation time or them coming out and spending a week with you, you going out to visit them.

What Darcy and I started doing twenty years ago was we put a lot of money in the bank, a lot of our savings in, and said this is just so we can stay connected to our grandkids. We want to be able to travel wherever they are and see them.

Now, you don’t want to be overbearing. It’s not your job to parent them. But it is your job to grandparent them. And it’s a grand calling. You’re going to enjoy it.

But just because they’re out of sight doesn’t mean they have to be out of mind or out of heart. You can make a difference, no matter how far away they are.

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