Grandparenting From Afar

Sharing the Good!

When distance separates you from your childrens’ families, it’s crucial to find healthy ways to cope with the grief and loss of long distance grandparenting (and parenting!).

Grandmother wearing ball cap that says Savta on it in a red and blue play structure tunnel with her toddler granddaughter wearing a pink romper suit.
Savta (Grandma in Hebrew) and her cutie grandaughter at the playground.

We are very blessed that our three adult kids are healthy, have purposeful careers, and have loving life-partners. Both our sons have children–we have three healthy and beautiful granddaughters! Unfortunately, none of them live nearby. Coordinating the time and resources to be together is challenging. Each family lives in a different location. With everyone’s busy work schedule (hubby and I both still work), getting the entire group together is really a monumental task and a rare occurrence. So the times we are together are special and even sacred.

Everybody Wants to Visit

We’ve been empty-nesters for a while and it’s quite a transition with both family and friend connections. Interestingly enough, without our kids around, we actually see family and relatives less often. But when the kids and grandkids come to visit, all of a sudden, everyone wants to come over to see our kids and grandkids. The dilemma is that we get such little time with them, and when others come over, the focus is on the guests and we really don’t get to spend our very limited time and energy forging a bond with our kids and grandkids. My parents and siblings did not live near us when our kids were younger, but we spent a lot of time visiting each other and it did’t feel like the “diet” we are on now with family contact.

A man holding his toddler daughter along side his wife and his mother.
Thanksgiving Visit 2023

After The Visit Let-Down

I miss my kids and my grandchildren a lot. Strangely enough, after our somewhat rare in-person visits, I miss them even more. Do you know this is actually a thing? It’s called the GRAND slump. There are actual websites devoted to a new age of family dynamics, from long distance grand-parenting to the very sad phenomena of estrangement. What I appreciate about a site like The Longdistance Grandparent is that it acknowledges the grief and loss that you can’t help but feel when you live far enough away from your children and grandchildren that you only see them a few times a year. Worse yet is if they live in a very different time zone than you, which makes even phone calls and Facetime visits challenging, if even possible on most days.

Growing Around Grief

For right now, there are no plans for us to live near any of our chidrens’ families. We both still work and have an active life in an ideal community and location. And now in my 60’s, I am pursuing an additional career path! I love reading about Lois Tonkin’s framework, Growing Around Grief, described on the website Flourish Mindfully. It validates the shift that I have been making. My pursuit of health coaching and this healthy lifestyle blog is significantly fueled not only by my passion, experience and expertise, but also by my very deliberate choice to focus my energy and efforts on how I can be productive and make a positive contribution to improve the lives of others. I see it as somewhat analogous to the opportunity for post-traumatic growth vs. remaining stuck in the victim state of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Grandparents posing for a photo with their son and his daughter after riding the Steam Train in Berkeley
4th of July 2024 Visit: After the Berkeley Steam Train Ride

Active Aging and Grandparenting

There’s no doubt that our lives would be different if we lived in closer proximity to our kids and grandkids, and I think it would be downright paradise to live in the same neighborhood! I sure do hope that that will happen in the not-too-distant future with at least some of them. But for the current generation(s) of active 50+ adults, our focus is likely different than was our parents’ generation. Some of us won’t have children and grandchildren near by, some will have adult children who delay having kids until much later, and someone won’t even have grandchildren at all. What does that mean for us? It really means that we get to fill the second half of our lives with active engagement and purpose, with authentic people who bring us joy, and with the wisdom and patience to enjoy contentment.

What are your favorite things to do when you visit your grandchildren? Please share in the comments!

Sharing the Good!

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  1. Hi Dvora, this really struck a cord with me. Bethan and her family, two grandchildren aged 2 and 4 ( my only grandchildren) have recently emigrated from the UK to Australia……pretty much as far away as they can be! Even though they never lived very close to us ( military life) I used to travel weekly to provide childcare for a couple of days. This move has left a massive hole in our lives as you can imagine.
    I am now embracing the extra time I have for me- it is important for me to focus on the positive. I rejoined the gym, I have taken over a larger bedroom for my painting and other hobbies and making more time to meet with friends and arrange theatre trips etc.
    We are in close contact with Australia though the grandchildren ar reluctant at the moment to interact on facetime with us. This is rather strange as we often relied on facetime contact when they were in the UK and they were totally comfortable with it. I guess the move has had a bigger impact than we imagined and I’m sure they can’t understand why we don’t visit. I have no doubt that they will embrace the life out there- they are certainly enjoying the work life balance, alteady giving them much more family time which was the driving force for the change.
    We have a flight booked for October and hope to visit a couple of times a year.
    When our children travelled I used to tell them “anywhere in the world is only a day away from home”…… I need to remember this🤣❤️.
    I hope you are still finding time to paint. I enjoyed our classes with Wendra in lockdown😍

  2. Gwyneth, Thank you for connecting and sharing your experience. This is what I was hoping for–that we can share and connect so that we are supportive community together with love and compassion. I love seeing your paintings. I have been taking my watercolors with me on vacations and I will share some of them soon in my Glacier Bay post I am working on. Please stay in touch! xoxo

  3. Spot on Dvora! During these abnormally hot months, I enjoy the local splash pads with the kids. It reminds me of running through the sprinklers as a child. I wonder if “slip and slides” are still around? When the water “spouts”, the joy on their faces is so infectious.

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