4 Things to Help You with Long Distance as a Grandparent
Even if you are committed to prioritizing your life around your grandchildren’s lives, just about every grandparent lives, just about every grandparent will have some of their grandchildren living far away from them. It’s not necessarily that grandparents move away from them; grandchildren can move away. If you find yourself in long-distance grandparenthood, consider these 4 suggestions.
Leverage Your Devices
Most of us carry the best tool for staying close in our pockets or purses. Phones and tablets can put grandparents instantly and frequently in touch with grandchildren. Granted, some people feel they are too old to learn new technology. That is an attitude that a conscientious grandparent can’t afford to embrace. With tablets and phones, grandparents hold in their hands powerful tools for staying close to their grandchildren. If you don’t know how to post on Facebook or Instagram, or even send a text message, just ask one of your grandchildren! Like so many other things are learned, after texting and/or social media is done a couple of times, it will seem as if you were doing it all your life.
Take the Conversation from Information to Life-Transformation
It is a good idea to call or FaceTime armed with some current information about what is going on in your grandchildren’s life. Grandparents can ask about school, sports, friends, trips, camps, and special occasions. However, conversation shouldn’t be limited to what the grandchild is doing. Spend some time finding out what they think and feel about these events . Because of the relationship grandparents have built with their grandchild, he or she may feel safe to talk about some of her feelings and frustrations. This is where the relationship comes to a fork in the road. You have the opportunity to hear them out and leave them feeling as if they have been understood and loved…or you can jump in with advice and stories about when you were her age. If you do, she may not want to share her feelings with you often. Here are a few tips for being a good phone or device sounding board to your older grandchildren:
- Listen as she describes a problem or feeling.
- Though you may not agree with a grandchild’s lifestyle or choices, avoid preaching. Rather, affirm your love and availability. Grandchildren most likely know what you think of their poor choices. What they most need to know is that they have in you a safe harbor for their hearts and a place to repent when they finally come around.
- Avoid criticizing the people a grandchild is mad at or disappointed in— especially the parents, stepparents, siblings, or other grandparents.
- Give the child time to talk it out.
- Don’t interrupt.
- When you do speak, express understanding for what your grandchild is going through.
- Do not try to fix the problem or give advice unless you’re specifically asked.
- If you do give advice, keep it short and to the point.
Pray for Your Grandchildren
Checking in with parents on a regular basis in order to keep informed about all that is happening in grandchildren’s lives gives grandparents information to pray for their specific needs every day. Grandchildren have things they are excited about, worried or disappointed over, and hoping for. When grandparents make it their aim to take these things that mean so much to them to the God to whom they mean so much, they become closer to grandparents hearts. Grandparents may not be on grandchildren’s minds as much as they are on theirs, but God can use the power of a praying grandparent to bless them!
Even if grandchildren don’t live close, grandparents can still have grandchildren in their daily lives. There are so many who have children who could use some older, wiser people crossing their paths. Our church and community has single moms who are carrying an enormous load. Divorces often take grandparents out of the picture for their children. You could play a huge role in helping to provide a “grandparent” for these children. A private discussion with your pastor or a sensitivity to single-parent families in our community is most likely all you’d need to connect with one of these moms.