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Invisible grandparents

Are You An Invisible Grandparent? Best Ways To Handle The Holiday Blues

By Pat Hanson, Ph.D.

As we invisible, estranged or alienated, grandparents face the holidays, ghosts of emptiness, insecurities about our own parenting, and past anger or confusion about unresolved issues may bubble up. Here are nine ways of constructively handling the holiday blues:

  1. List qualities you would like your missing grandkids to have. Imagine these talents and assets evolving within them as they grow.
  2. Remember how you’d like to be remembered. One grandma in my Alienated Grandparents Anonymous support group made a collage on each of deck of 52 cards representing things she’d want her twin grandsons to know about her.
  3. Adopt someone else’s grandkid. Give some parent a break by babysitting. Enjoy the dazzling Christmas lights in your town’s version of Christmas Tree Lane with someone else’s child.
  4. Sick of holiday festivities? Do exactly the opposite. Remember The Mad Hatter’s “Very Merry Un-birthday” from Alice in Wonderland? Turn off the TV, take a walk in nature, and give yourself a “July” barbeque.
  5. Write that amends letter, and save it for the someday you might share it; OR dump any negative energy into it, pray for forgiveness, then burn it to release it to the universe with a prayer. “Peace on Earth” starts with you!
  6. Make a Christmas tree of hope. In 2012, an invisible grandparent put an “Alienated Grandparents Christmas Tree of Hope” in her front yard in Austin, Texas. Dozens of people came and wrote messages on “paper ornaments” to her missing grandchildren. 
  7. Become visible to others in need. Be of service.  Help at your local holiday dinner for the disadvantaged. Sign up for that mentoring or foster grandparenting program in your community and take your commitment into the New Year.
  8. Adopt a great-great grand. There are plenty of nursing home elders that would love to share their memories of the past. Visit. Listen. Learn.
  9. And finally, Remember to grandmother yourself! Virtually gift yourself. Find something you’d love to do and do it!

Let’s nourish one another and build a community to deal with holiday blues and other invisible grand issues? Please go to www.leavealegacyoflovenow.com to join a community of invisible grands, share your story, and offer ideas. There you will find a printable gift of my story Virtual Christmas Giving. We grands are sending the true spirit of the season when we share ways to transcend separation.

Are you an invisible grand?

on to those who mean the most to them. It includes long distance grandparents, as well as those who may be estranged or alienated from their adult children due to circumstances out of their control such as personality conflicts, custody issues, or consequences of choices made long ago. Some may have once played a role in a young one’s life and were then blocked from it and have tangible memories and ideas of where these children are and what they look or may be like. Some may not even know their grandchildren’s whereabouts or even their names. If you’re an invisible grand, please click here to join our ongoing community.


Dr. Pat Hanson is a seasoned health educator, public speaker, and workshop facilitator. She is the author of Invisible Grandparenting: Leave A Legacy Of Love Whether You Can Be There or Not. She lectures nationally on Aging Positively and is a columnist for the magazine: Crone: Women Coming of Age

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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