It was late summer 2007. Our son and his wife were moving to Austria for three years, and taking our only grandchild with them! Thus began our adventure as long-distance grandparents.
We now have twelve grandchildren and our desire as Christian grandparents is to have meaningful relationships with them. Because they live in four time zones and on both sides of the Atlantic, maintaining these relationships across the miles is difficult. However, we have found that a bit of forethought goes a long way.
When planning our visits to our children and grandchildren, we ask ourselves if there is a way to be a part of a special event such as a family move, or the birth of a baby. Besides planning when to visit, we try to put some thought into what we will be doing while there. We often take a new game to play or book to read. We look for ways to spend individual time with our grandchildren. Mom and Dad appreciate being able to have a break, so we take the grandchildren for a well-planned walk, or even better, we promote a date-night for Mom and Dad.
Of course, traveling presents its own set of challenges. Travel costs are an item in our annual budget. We fly when the distance goes beyond our “long-drive” limit. We’ve also learned we need to plan our travel with some personal comfort in mind so that we will have energy to engage with the kids.
Additionally, we plan for their visits to us. Spending time together both as a family and one-on-one are priorities when our grandchildren come to visit. Instead of just letting things happen as they will, we plan things to do together, such as playing games, cooking, gardening, doing chores, or going on a special outing. Having a kid-friendly house is also conducive to good relationships. We have age-appropriate games, toys, books, sports equipment, and art supplies on hand.
How do we sustain the relationships between visits? Modern technology is a great help. We make our Skype calls when the children will be there to talk with us. We always appreciate the digital photos and videos that the parents send, whether on Facebook or by email. Sometimes we make old-fashioned phone calls and send cards and letters, letting the grandkids know that we are thinking about and praying for them. We want them to know that we love them.
None of this happens by default. It takes thinking and planning ahead. We have found the motto, Think, Pray, and Act Strategically, very helpful. Knowing other grandparents use this motto also is a definite boost. Together, we help each other do it Grandly!
1) Do you know what communication apps you could use to have time with your grandchildren?
2) What is the biggest obstacle to spending time with your long-distance grandchildren? Money? Time? Discomfort or something else?
1) Set a goal for the next visit from your long-distance grandchildren or…
2) Examine your house. Do you have a kid friendly house, or at least kid friendly areas?
Jim and Ginny Joy presented a workshop on how to relate to your far-flung grandchildren at the Lansing Do it Grandly Conference. They live in Lansing, Michigan and have 12 grandchildren.
Copyright © 2018 Grandly: The Strategic Grandparents Club.