Rob and I never assumed that our grandkids would live close by where we could see them all the time. But we didn’t imagine that our first granddaughter would live 3700 miles away in Costa Rica! Little Ferryn was born on April 3rd, and while we feel overjoyed, the separation of distance is tough on our hearts.
Her birth brings back sweet memories of the birth of our grandson and all of the “firsts” we’ve shared with him living nearby. First holidays. First coos and smiles. First hugs and crawls, steps and words. Sharing those day-to-day moments is a blessing like none other! Knowing we’ll be absent from some of baby girl’s firsts is making us ask new questions like,
How can we show love and support to our grandchild (and her parents!)?
What are ways to connect from far away?
How can we make the most of the time we do get to spend together?
How might God use the distance to grow our trust in Him?
Here are five reflections as we turn these questions over in our hearts and minds:
1) Give grace and acceptance
When we miss our kids the most, it can be hard to remember that it’s good and right for them to be set apart as their own family. It’s by God’s design that “a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). As parents and grandparents, we show grace by releasing our kids to follow their goals and dreams—even if those dreams lead them far away.
Let’s silence any words that lay guilt on our kids’ shoulders for the miles between us. Let’s choose to celebrate their joys and cheer them on as they pursue their goals. Knowing the weighty burden of raising their little ones, let’s set them free from the pressure to keep us happy and meet our expectations. What a gift for our kids to know they’re accepted and cherished wherever they go.
2) Love by listening
When it comes to parenting, you and I have years of experience under our belts. We remember the sleepless nights. The loose teeth and upset tummies. The science fair projects, driving lessons, and the never-ending question of “what’s for dinner?”. We’ve weathered the storms of toddler tantrums and teenage attitudes. So as our kids step into parenting, it’s tempting to back up a truckload of advice and dump it right in their laps!
Instead, let’s practice the art of listening during our long-distance texts and chats. As quiet, respectful observers, we create space for trial and error to discover what’s best for each one-of-a-kind grandchild’s needs. Listening communicates “You’ve got this!” and “I believe in you!” more than any words we might speak. And, by building trust and respect through listening, our kids know they can come to us for advice when they seek it.
3) Be intentional
As a little girl, I remember my mother’s Saturday morning routine of calling my grandmother who lived out of state. Those moments of contact, week after week, built a strong and consistent relationship for life. It also set a great example for me that family relationships grow through persistent, steady care.
As we pursue relationship with our far-away children, we know it won’t happen by accident. We’ve got to make use of the tools at hand such as video chats, texting, and budgeting for travel to get face to face. And while spontaneous chatting is fantastic, putting those conversations on the calendar guarantees the time won’t slip away before we connect.
4) Practice generosity
It’s no secret in our family that mom is a hugger. Physical affection is one of my strongest love languages, so I’m counting the days until I can snuggle up with baby girl! Rob is a “quality time” kind of guy, so he’s eager to share trips to the park and get on the floor to play with her. In the waiting for those moments, we still want to show our love and support. So, we are looking for ways to put love in action through giving.
As grandparents we can help with ordering diapers and other practical needs. We can ship some fun in the form of toys, stories, and treats. For their busy, tiring days, we can mail gift cards for carry-out restaurants and grocery stores. Funds can go to babysitters or housecleaning to help to ease the load. As we count the weeks until our next visit, we can stash away gifts in a “blessing box” to give when they arrive. (My box for baby girl so far has some cute outfits, a plush animal, and books to share.) Since travel is required to get together, we can help cover the tickets, gas, or costs involved, too.
5) Pray all the time
Separation from our loved ones isn’t easy. We can fall into sadness and frustration. It’s tempting to worry and imagine all the worst struggles and dangers they might face. We might feel insecure, wondering if we’re missed or wanted or needed any more. Eager to pour our love and care into our grandchildren, we wonder how to make a real difference in their lives.
That is why prayer is one of God’s best gifts of all. It’s not a consolation prize for Him “taking” our kids away. It’s not a last resort when there’s nothing else we can do. It isn’t a band-aid to pacify our hurts and fears.
Prayer is how we invite God’s power and love into the lives of our family.
Let’s build prayer into our daily routine. We can ask God to bless their home with health and peace. Our prayers can call on God to prosper their friendships, finances, and faith in Him. We can ask for wisdom in how to encourage and show support. When the pain of separation is bringing us down, we can ask Him to refresh our patience and joy. God is listening every moment and our prayers make a difference!
In fact, can we pray together right now for you and I as grandparents and for the ones we love?
We miss our kids. Our arms feel empty as we wait to hold our grandchildren. While we celebrate the lives our loved ones are building, we ache for connection. We want to encourage, support, and make memories by sharing special moments face to face.
Give us patience as we wait to be together. Show us how to love our family well, no matter where they go. Teach us what it means to honor our kids as they work to raise their precious children. Open doors for us to be generous and helpful and lighten their load. Teach us to listen well and show them grace.
Guard our hearts from worry. Help us to be content and trust that Your plans are good for our family. May we hold our children and grandchildren with open hands, releasing them to Your loving care. Thank You for each one–You have blessed us more than we could ask or imagine. Amen.
As we take these first steps into long-distance grandparenting, we know we don’t have all the answers. We’d love to hear from YOU and your tips for loving family from far away. And, we’d love to pray for you as you navigate your own journey of grandparenting. We’re so glad we can grow side by side with you. ❤️