Grandparenting From Afar

Grandparenting From Afar

We’ve all heard or know first-hand the sad tales of divided parents raising a child while living many miles and hours apart, and barely on speaking terms with one another. A long cold war.

There’s a lot of stress, anger, and frustration when one parent badmouths the other and does not consider the well-being, education, health, and happiness of the child to be the priority.

But we rarely hear about the heartache of grandparents who love the child who is in the miserable situation I just described. This is the life that one of my young grandkids is living. In fact, he is supposed to be staying with us right now for a few days, but… (Big, sad sigh here)

Even when divorced parents get along well, split parenting usually means that the grandparents get little one-on-one time with their grandchildren. There simply isn’t time for that when the kid(s) lives between two households—especially if it’s in different towns. They may see them once in a while at family gatherings, but those special times that many grandparents dream about—like sleepovers in a living room blanket tent, just don’t fit into a child’s schedule that includes two sets of parents and families, school, homework, friends, sports, clubs, etc. Their days and weekends are full!

Of course, the same goes for grandkids whose home life is under one roof with an intact set of parents—but live far away from their grandparents. It’s difficult to build a close bond when you’re rarely together — especially once the kids enter the teen years. It’s all about their friends and social life—like it was for all of us back in the dayeven without social media.

When I was a teen, our black, rotary home phone was practically glued to my ear! My BFF and I used to watch TV shows and movies together over the phone. I’m thankful our folks were cool about that.

FaceTime calls are great, but they do not replace being together. Plus, when I talk to my teen grandkids, they often morph into animated mice, donkeys, clowns, and pirates, making a meaningful conversation impossible! The bottom line is they prefer texting with their friends. I get it. I’d rather be back in the 1960s watching a movie on the phone with my friend and having giggle fits.

You may wonder why I’m posting this today. (Another big sigh here – it’s been a hard week – refer to the third paragraph.) I miss my grandkids.  They’re growing up way too fast, and I’m getting old way too fast! Of course, there’s more to it, but it would require us all to have a glass of wine or three. The bottom line is I want to be the cool grandparent who’s fun to hang out with and always has sage advice that the kiddos take to heart. Yup, I want to be a TV sitcom grandparent like George Segal’s character “Pops” was in The Goldbergs. But it’s hard to be that person long distance.

You may be thinking, “Why don’t you move to where your kids live so you can be “Pops”?”
We almost did that several years ago when our older son’s kids were tots. We bought a cozy Dutch Colonial in their area on the east coast, so we could be full time grandparents. We found a buyer for our restaurants, and were about to sign the papers when our son got transferred to another state.

What a disaster that would have been for us! Without family or friends, we would have been 3,000 from the home and town we love. I know several people who’ve given up their homes and friends to move close to kids, only to have this happen to them. BTW – We still have the restaurants – Klondike Pizza – since 1988.

I had a lot of fun raising my boys.
I was room mom, P.T.A. mom, judo mom,
gymnastics mom, ice hockey mom,
Little League mom, basketball mom,
roller hockey mom,
soccer mom, punk-rock mom,
scuba mom, golf mom, driver’s ed mom,
mentor-mom to a girl who didn’t have a mom,
working mom, worn-out mom,
Happy Mom.

I always thought I would be a Soccer Grandma.
Hey! I have a toddler grandson, so there’s still hope!
Oh wait, he doesn’t live near me. Rats.

Here’s a wonderful way to connect with young
far-away grandkids. It’s also great if you’re a
parent whose job often takes you out of town.
I wish this had been possible when my husband
traveled a lot back in the day.

I’ll be doing this again when my youngest long-distant toddler grandson is ready to sit still for a few minutes. I did this with his big brother for a couple of years and then tried it with my older grandkids, but they were too old. It’s great for the younger ones and opens up fun conversations with the kids. 

Readeo’s founder created it after his family moved 1,500 miles away—and quickly realized video calls alone weren’t enough to keep his son and son’s grandparents connected.

From the site: Readeo’s BookChat platform makes it easy to capture kids’ attention. By combining interactive, digitized books with video chat, BookChat sessions last almost 10 minutes longer than traditional video calls.

My experience was that the video chats lasted way longer than what Readeo says because the book you’re reading opens up new conversations with children old enough to understand. Soon they are showing you their toys and telling you stories.

I got my BFF going on it with her long-distant grandkids; she loves it!





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