I am a long-distance grandparent! And I know that many of you are as well. Like me, some of you have grandchildren that live a couple of hours away or even twelve hours away. Others have grandchildren that reside across the country. And still others find themselves grandparenting across the globe.
No matter the mileage between you and your grandchild, long-distance grandparenting presents some hefty challenges to building the deep and meaningful relationships we long for. Even so, there is no cause for despair. These challenges are simply that – challenges. And as such, they can be navigated and overcome.
Long-distance Grandparenting Tips
1. Be Intentional
Before you take any other steps toward building a vibrant relationship with your long-distance grandchild, make the commitment. Write out your intention on a sheet of paper and place it where you will see it often. Share your commitment with someone else and invite them to encourage you, pray for you, and hold you accountable. Then set about to look for ways to connect with your grandchild across the miles.
2. Be Consistent
Form a plan, write it down, and mark it on your calendar. Be sure the reminders fit your lifestyle. If you use your phone for everything, put your plan in your phone. If morning coffee is your routine, review your plan while having your coffee.
And speaking of consistency, whether your connection activity is a FaceTime call, a card in the mail, or a text message, try to schedule it on the same day of each week, and if possible, at the same time of day.
3. Be the Initiator
Don’t wait for things to just happen or allow yourself to fall prey to the “They’re just too far away” mentality. You are the family elder. Step up, take charge, and get things moving in the right direction.
Begin to study your grandchildren. What are the best ways to communicate with each one? What are your grandchildren’s interests, their skills, their talents, and their struggles? How do their personalities shine through? Do you know their love language?
4. Be a Bridge Builder
While you are initiating meaningful connections with your grandchildren, don’t forget their parents.
Think back for just a moment. Do you recall your parenting days? Activity for days? Tons of pressure? Mountains of responsibility? This is where your adult children now reside. Don’t just assume. Don’t be the one who makes things more difficult. Build bridges with them as well. Clear your ideas for plans and schedules with your grandchildren’s parents first.
5. Be an Investor
Grandparents are called to be disciple-makers of future generations (Psalm 78:7-8; Matthew 28:18-20). In this season of your life, you are needed in your extended family – as a leader, a resource, a role model, and a conduit for transmitting family history, values, and faith.
Sure, finding creative ways to connect with your long-distance grandchildren is fun, but ultimately, there is a bigger purpose. Make it a clear priority and invest in it. Give your role, your grandchildren, and the relationships you are building the time, effort, and money warranted.
6. Be Constant in Prayer
Submit your plan to the Lord. Ask for wisdom and the tenacity to see your plan through. Plead for a biblical understanding of your role. Intercede on behalf of your grandchildren and their relationship with Christ. Pray for the parents of your grandchildren. Seek God’s favor upon your task of long-distance grandparenting.
Pray intentionally, consistently, and specifically.
7. Be Willing to Work Through the Difficulties
Building any close, deep relationship takes work. Families can be messy. Add to that the challenges incurred by great geographical distances, and you get the picture. While extremely rewarding, long-distance grandparenting isn’t necessarily easy.
As you come up against difficult situations and perplexing emotions, don’t back down. Don’t walk away. Do the hard. Work through each trial, each complexity with your grandchild and/or their parents. And, if necessary, involve others whom you trust.
Now that you have the tips, are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get started? If you could use a little jumpstart in your planning, here’s a helpful list of ideas. Perhaps there’s an idea on it you can use this week!