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How Local Grandparents Can Support A Long-Distance Grandparent


If you are lucky enough to be a local grandparent, there are a few practical things you can do to support the long-distance grandparents in your grandchildren’s lives – and, by extension, support the growth and well-being of your grandchildren.

In my work with long-distance grandparents, I teach them about my evidence-based framework, Your Grand Path to Connection. It consists of 5 essential elements critical for nurturing meaningful and fun relationships from a distance: Plan, Partner, Prepare, Play, and Preserve.

Discussions about partnering for connection always include the most important partner, the grandchildren’s parents.

But I encourage grandparents to consider other partners, such as the local grandparents who spend time regularly with the grandchildren and can help play an important role in fostering connections with long-distance grandparents.

This can feel awkward for long-distance grandparents – especially if they don’t know the local grandparents.

“…even though it’s hard for long-distance grandparents not to let a smidge of envy, and yes, jealousy creep in sometimes too – they understand the deep value of their grandchildren having more people to love them.”

However, while long-distance grandparenting differs from local grandparenting, you all share a deep love for your grandchildren and an understanding of the joy of being a grandparent.

I hear from long-distance grandparents who are so grateful to you, the local grandparents, for your hands-on love and support for their adult children and grandchildren.

And even though it’s hard for long-distance grandparents not to let a smidge of envy, and yes, jealousy creep in sometimes, too – they understand the deep value of their grandchildren having more people to love them.

The thing is family is family – no matter where they live – and grandchildren need to know you are all on the same team. The team wants them to feel loved, encouraged, and supported by family. The team that wants them to know they are never alone.

And the team that wants them to grow up to be kind, determined, and loving humans.

What better way to accomplish this than to wrap your heart around the long-distance family?

So here are a few ways to help with this connection and ensure your grandchildren get the best of your grandparent’s worlds!

Give them time alone with the family and your grandchildren when they visit.

grandparents The excitement of the long-distance grandparents visiting can be a big deal for the whole family, especially when it’s an international visit – and let’s be honest, you want to know them and spend time with them too!

It’s so healthy for kids to have all of you around at once to demonstrate the cohesiveness, connectedness, and breadth of the family they belong to and share.

It’s also important for long-distance grandparents to spend time with the family and their grandchildren without you. Especially when they first arrive, they need time to get into the family routine, which you likely know because you live nearby.

But let them have the sweet morning cuddles (or mornings with the cranky teens!), walks and pick-ups to and from daycare or school, and the coveted bedtime storytime.

Everyone lives at a distance in our family, but when the international grandparents visit, we make sure the guards who live closer aren’t there for the first few days at least. This gives the international grandparents particular one-on-one time with all of us.

This will look different for all families, but the main thing is to make sure you give the long-distance grandparents ample time to spend with the grandchildren, no matter the age of the grandchild.

Make cards or write letters with your grandchildren to send to the long-distance grandparents.

If you have your grandchildren with you and are looking for ways to keep them busy, get out the crafty stuff and help them create a card or letter for the long-distance grandparents. For little ones, pick up stickers to decorate the cards and envelopes. For older grandchildren, pick up fancy pens or a calligraphy set and learn calligraphy together while writing to the long-distance grandparent.

Creating real mail for others and posting it together teaches your grandchild so much, including:

  • The importance of letting people know we are thinking about them.
  • The value of taking time to make others feel happy and loved.
  • There are other ways to communicate with people besides texting!

And as a bonus for you, it communicates that no matter where people live, there are always ways to stay in touch – which might very well come in handy when they leave for college one day and are used to writing to grandparents from a distance.

Text them photos or videos of your grandchildren.

Sometimes, the parents lose track of doing this, and who better understands the joy of receiving a photo or video of a grandchild than you?

It takes seconds to send a photo and minutes to send a video message to a long-distance nana.

It can be anything from having them say I miss you, Nana to what the weather is like where you are to having them perform a magic trick or a few jokes you’ve taught them.

It doesn’t take long, but when you include the long-distance grandparents in your activities and conversations, it helps your grandchild understand the scope of the family you all share and that they are loved right there with you – and worldwide.

Letting children know that everyone in a family is important – no matter how often we see them – is a significant life lesson. One day, they are likely to live away from you – and you want them to understand two important things: relationships can exist and thrive from a distance with effort, and a grandparent’s love travels with and to them, no matter where they go.



Kerry Byrne

About the author

Kerry Byrne - I’m Kerry, Founder of The Long-Distance Grandparent. I’d love for you to join me as I grow this business into a movement that will benefit grandparents and grandchildren all over the world (more on that later!). Ready to learn more? I’d love for you to join us.

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