Looking waaay down the road: to having teenage grandchildren far away.

My friend Gerry told me a story recently that really had an impact on me. His daughter, who lives three states away with her kids, called to report that Gerry’s 14-year old grandson Marco won a trophy at the lacrosse tournament the day before.

“I know,” Gerry said.

“But, Dad,” his daughter asked, “how could you know?”

“Marco Skyped me last night to show me his trophy.”

As a grandparent of little ones, my heart soared at the thought that I would be the one my grands would want to show a trophy to someday – and that someday the kids could start the video chat without parents needing to be involved.

Gerry and his grandson have a long-distance relationship that is strong and important to both of them. But it didn’t start when Marco turned 14. Gerry has been involved in his grandkids’ lives even though they have always lived a plane ride away.

The good news: you absolutely can have a great relationship with your grandchildren. Attitude and resolve are so important! The time that you give to establishing a good relationship in a child’s formative years is well spent. A child who starts out feeling very connected to a grandparent will typically carry this relationship into future years. For many of us, that connection is through in-person visits occasionally — and Skype, Facetime, Google Duo, Zoom, or Facebook Portal most of the year. Learning to connect with video chat makes all of you comfortable with this form of communication for years to come.

The very important news: no procrastination, please. What you do in these early years is extremely important in setting the stage for the future. While your grandchildren may not retain specific memories from these years, their feelings and impressions of you have already started. You only need to think of your own grandparents to realize that your overall impressions (Grandma was warm and kind or cold and unapproachable, Grandpa was fun or a perfectionist, etc.) are what matters, yet each impression was formed as you spent time with them.

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6 thoughts on “Looking waaay down the road: to having teenage grandchildren far away.”

  1. As a proud granny of a newborn girl (born 3 days ago on the opposite coast from us), teenage years seem far away.But when looking at our 6-year old grandson (in town), we know those years will be here before we know it. We are determined to have a great relationship with her, just like we do with him .

    • Congratulations on your new granddaughter! And congratulations for being determined to have a close relationship with her even though miles separate you. I didn’t think it could be done — but it absolutely can.


  2. Hi Jane,
    We moved to Honolulu in 2017 to answer an invitation from our only child to be in his daughter’s life. She was 3. We got very close to her over the 2-1/2 years we lived there. When we decided to move back to the mainland last November, it was a difficult decision. We’ve been doing FaceTime every week where we not only visit with her but have learned to read her stories from the library and I teach her art lessons. This connection has proven to be so important and the bonding has continued. I send her mail regularly and she has sent us her little drawings and stories. We hope to continue this long after the pandemic and know that the next time we see one another in person, it will be an added blessing. I enjoy your articles! Keep writing about your thoughts – it’s good for the growing number of grandparents separated from their grand darlings.

    • Oh, Sylvie, how nice to hear your grandparenting story! What a tough decision that was to move back to the mainland but you are making it work. I love how you report “the bonding has continued.” That’s HUGE! Someday your granddaughter will be showing you a trophy and her parents won’t even know!

      Thanks for your nice words about my articles. Grandparents like you and me are forging new territory with being able to connect with faraway grandparents. That wasn’t available much to our parents and other ancestors. We all need to share what we’re learning.


  3. I am so heartened to read these wonderful stories of relationships. We facetime each week with our great-grand -daughters (twins) who will be 3 years old at the beginning of next month. The reason I am communicating at this time (5.30am UK) is that I can’t sleep. I still haven’t finished the second “Quiet book” and am continually refurnishing it in my mind. Not a good sleeping pill – its almost as bad as planning to refurnish my own house, which is a great time-passer at nil cost. However my current problem has to be converted into stitchery, and I must not be too ambitious or the second book will have many more details than the first one.
    We were able to see the girls in the flesh for an hour a few weeks ago when they came for a run around the garden, and it has made a significant difference to our facetime sessions – they are much more aware of who I am, to the extent that last week Violet asked when she could have blue hair like GGAudrey (yes I do have blue hair).
    I look forward to the facetime sessions – they are the highlight of my week in these dreary pandemic days.

    • Audrey, how nice to peek into your life across The Pond! I am going to try your “refurbish my house” tip for my occasional insomnia.

      Isn’t FaceTime wonderful! What would we do without it, especially during the pandemic? I’m glad you get to visit with your pair of darlings — and influence their preference for hair color!

      Thanks for writing.


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