My mother-in-law used to say that the thing she loved best of all was when she had her two children, their spouses and all her grandchildren under one roof together. I now know what she meant.

There is something wonderful about having all one’s children and grandchildren together (in small doses!). Chaotic, exhausting – yes, even stressful – but rewarding and so special!

With five children in different places, I have had to come to terms with the fact that it’s not going to happen very often. Three of our children and four of our grandchildren live in different parts of the U.S.A. Our eldest daughter’s family, with four children, live over an hour away, and our eldest son lives in heaven, so he’s always going to be absent from the family photos.

Ways to connect and influence your grandchildren from afar

We believe that grandparents have a unique opportunity to positively influence the lives of their grandchildren, so we have had to find ways of grandparenting from a distance.

I find the separation hard. Sometimes I feel guilty that we don’t do more. But we do try to do the following:

  • Pray for them regularly and frequently. My parents prayed for our children every day while they were growing up. We try to do the same for our grandchildren.

  • Phone our children frequently, weekly if possible, to keep in touch with their lives and the progress of our grandchildren. When possible, we take the opportunity to speak to our grandchildren themselves.

  • When we send cards on special occasions, we try to say the important things so that when they re-read them later, perhaps even in years to come, they will be reminded that they are loved.

  • Our plan to have an annual family reunion has not worked. At the moment, someone is always pregnant, about to give birth or just had a baby and can’t travel. But when there is an opportunity, we make every effort to make it happen.

  • Our aim is to visit our U.S. grandchildren once a year and hope that they can visit us once a year. We try to budget accordingly.

  • We are building up a "treasure trove" of all kinds of precious items to share with our grandchildren as they grow old enough to be interested in their family heritage. This, of course, includes albums of pictures of their parents as children.

  • From time to time, we send a family letter, which keeps everyone in touch with each other. Maybe in the future, our grandchildren will be able to contribute to this.

Excerpted from Grandparenting, June 2004, by Care for the Family. © 2004 Care for the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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