Gransnet forums


Long distance grandparenting

(86 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 14-Jun-12 10:24:37

Janice Bhend's sons moved to the US - and her grandchildren all live thousands of miles away. How to cope with the constant goodbyes and how to be a good gran at such a distance? Read more in our guest blog post and add your views and experiences to this thread.

Coolgran65 Thu 24-Jul-14 20:17:25

I have just been reading these posts again (I made a post a couple of months ago). It has made be feel quite emotional and yet it is heart warming to know there are other grans who love and miss their GC. Mine is 7k miles away on west coast USA. My DS is quite good at keeping in touch with very very frequent emails but doesn't think to tell of the tiny day to day details... .....'' DGS finger fed himself for the first time today''' !! little stuff. His wife is from the USA. DS went to uni at 18 and stayed on to do a Ph.d. Then worked in England (I'm in N.Ireland), then met a girl from USA and got a great job on West Coast USA. So it is actually 20+ years since he really lived at home. Ddil is also a Ph.d. and first DGS was born when they were 40. It is 3 years since their last visit here. We visited this summer and to meet DGS. Ddil sends pics but not a great deal of chat, although when we did visit she was very hospitable and tearful when we left. They know how we miss them and DGS but I don't want to say just how heart wrenching it is.... their life is where they are. Her parents are many 100s of miles distant and health is an issue.
I have to accept that this is how it is. Skype is ok, but can be a bit disjointed and occasionally unsatisfactory. Hiccups with the technology and of course 8 hours time difference.

PatriciaPT Thu 24-Jul-14 14:34:51

Lots of good ideas from lots of Grans. I'm not good at keeping in touch with my 2 overseas GC. I have 8 GC in the UK and it's difficult enough keeping up with all of them! Sometimes I visit my son and help him with childcare when the children are staying with him (he is divorced and both he and his ex live in widely separated countries overseas) but as they get older that becomes less relevant. Remembering to Skype at a time when they are not asleep in bed is not my strong point and I need to set up a system. Occasionally they come here but my guess is it will be nearly 2 years since I last saw them in person before I see them again. That of course is nothing to the way it worked for (e.g.) missionaries in the past when children came 'home' to the UK to boarding school, spent the holidays with a UK 'guardian' and didn't see their parents (never mind their GP) again for many years. There are adults, not a few of them, suffering still as a result of that particular regime. We actually have it really easy nowadays in general.

MollyCK Fri 27-Jun-14 20:14:58

We just started using this free application called “Moment Garden” to get real time updates on our new grandson Mark. Our son and daughter in law have created a “Garden” for Mark that is completely private and only available to see by invitation. We get an email everyday with any new photo about Mark or an update about him. It is truly the highlight of my day. We can also add “moments” to Mark’s garden or send comments to him or his parents. It’s a wonderful application, especially important to me because of the privacy. In this day and age I prefer not to have my personal information all over the internet for everyone to see.

jose Wed 11-Jun-14 15:52:00

After reading these, I did not feel quite so bad at my feelings.

In 2004, my daughter and husband along with their 3 children left to go to Scotland, not so very far you may think, but to me it might as well be on the other side of the world. I took it really hard when they went and tried not to be too resentful at what had happened. After all this time the feelings have gone away.

My husband and I see them once a year for a couple of weeks as it is expensive to travel up there on a more regular basis.
I speak on the phone to my daughter weekly, skype does not seem to come into it at present.

All 3 grandchildren have autistic problems and therefore they have not visited us, so it is just up to us. We are both getting older and feel we have missed out. My daughter is having a tough time and we wish she was closer so we could give her the help she requires, but all we can do is speak on the phone, not the same.

Luckily I have 2 other grandsons who live an hour's drive away and see them and are part of their lives.

We both wish that it was different, but they have their own lives to lead, they thought at the time it was the right thing.

yogagran Mon 26-May-14 19:26:05

Saying "goodbye" is always the worst part isn't it Coolgran
flowers for you

Coolgran65 Sun 25-May-14 20:04:21

I have just returned to UK from west coast USA where my little grandson was born 9 months ago. It was a wonderful visit. We were leaving for the airport in the early hours of the morning and when little grandson was put to bed and we got our last hugs and kisses it was devastating. I went to pieces and after granda said his goodbyes he had to take himself into the garden.

They will never be back to the UK to live, only for visits. Thank goodness for emails and Skype.

ffinnochio Sun 25-May-14 17:56:10

Hello JackyB. Stuff in cupboards need airing sometimes smile. Hope you enjoy GN and all it has to offer.

Off to London in July to see latest grandchild. sunshine

JessM Sun 25-May-14 17:43:20

Welcome JackyB and no problem at all reviving this thread. Where in California are they going?

JackyB Sun 25-May-14 17:08:40

Excuse me for dragging this thread out of the cupboard, but I would like you all to know that I have taken some consolation from it. We are expecting our first grandchild at the end of July and 6 months later, in January 2015, my son, with his wife and baby, will up sticks and move to California, where he has a good job waiting for him.

I did this myself, like some of you on this thread have already described, and deprived my parents of their grandchildren, and in those days all we had were letters and photos on paper to send to each other. I live in Germany, so there wasn't so much of a problem with time difference, and telephone calls were expensive, but technically no problem. If I wanted to visit my parents with my babies, I had to go to a travel agent and book a flight. Occasionally we would drive over and visit them in the car.

My father was happy to drive and visit us once a year, and when the driving got too much for them, they flew once or twice. My mother flew over on her own, twice after I had had serious operations, and for the last time a few years ago when my oldest got married.

As parents, you don't realise what a wrench it must be for the grandparents, and now the tables are turning on me, I am torn between the exciting prospect of my first visit to the US and the sadness at having to watch my grandson go through those so very important early years at long distance.

They do plan to return to Europe when the little one starts school, though - so there is a distant light at the end of the tunnel.

Right. This is my first post on gransnet - I'm off to explore the site.

Gramsy Fri 12-Apr-13 01:53:25

I just realized that I never said I was from central US, Arkansas to be exact. The days are going by so fast now and I am concerned with what is happening in the part of the world my babies will be in. Okinawa is just a jump from North Korea. Does anyone have family on Okinawa? My son is a Marine and spent time in Iraq. Other than that, I've never been away from my babies.

Nainai2 Thu 04-Apr-13 23:26:21

Accurate empathy here. We have four and two-year-old grandsons living on mainland China about an hour from Hong Kong but yet another border to cross! My son and his Chinese wife lived in UK until our first grandson was 8 months old and my daughter-in-law missed her mum. Son very adventurous and a teacher, so the family moved. Completely broke my heart when they left. Meanwhile we see them roughly once a year either there or here and skype frequently - which is fraught with frustration because of China firewalls and time differences/logistical problems. My eldest grandson often says 'I miss you nana' and the little one has only recently started taking an interest. There are pretend kisses and hugs. It is the hardest thing. I cannot shrug off the knowledge that those babies are growing up behind my back. Sad. Have tried to develop a hard core and tell myself it is what it is and I must just get on with it.

Greatnan Tue 12-Mar-13 02:08:49

Gramsy - I hope you can still find happiness in thinking of your family, no matter where they are in the world. I am sure your grandchildren will know you and keep in touch. It really will feel like an amputation at first, but it does get better in time. My very best wishes to you.

Grandmanorm Mon 11-Mar-13 12:19:39

Gramsy my DH was in the RAF and we spent 4 years in Singapore (split into two postings) when the children were very young, two were born there, so my parents didn't see them as babies. As others have said, there was only letter writing to keep us in touch and it was painful.
However, my three were very very close to my parents in spite of all the years apart. The other Grandparents died before I met my DH, I add that in case anyone wondered why I didn't mention them!
I hope this helps.

Gramsy Mon 11-Mar-13 01:07:49

Greatnan and Whenim64: Thank you for your responses. I won't get to visit unless there is a change. I currently work for a federal judge and am extrememly tied to my job for obvious reasons. I also just can't afford it. Since receiving the news, my daughter, whom I thought I was really close to, can't seem to talk. I know all of this is made worse of my chronic depression but this time it just seems like there is no solution. I am so unhappy about this! My grandchildren are the bright spot in my life and now I am wondering if I have done myself a great disservice by being so involved. Again, thank you for taking the time to respond.

whenim64 Fri 08-Mar-13 08:03:50

Bravo Greatnan we all know from your posts how involved you are with your grandchildren, and how you often have news to share about them flowers

Gramsy will you get chance to visit and holiday with them? They will only be a plane ride away, and there's an opportunity to you to visit that part of the world.

It isn't the same as them being nearby, but you can do plenty to bridge the gap with Skype, emaiis, Facebook, visits and the like. I hope you soon start to feel more positve about this news flowers

Greatnan Fri 08-Mar-13 07:25:15

I forgot to add that I am planning to join them permanently in a few years!

Greatnan Fri 08-Mar-13 07:23:44

NO, they won't be strangers. I have lived abroad for the lives of most of my ten grandchildren and it has not stopped me being very close to them. Your 14 year old can chat to you on Facebook or via emails and the little ones can see you on Skype.
I am currently staying in New Zealand with my daughter and her family - I see them usually once a year (a bonus this year was the wedding of another of her sons in the UK in August) and it feels as if I have never been away from them.
Believe me, emotional distance is much harder to cope with than physical distance.

Gramsy Fri 08-Mar-13 03:27:10

I am completely new to the forum and need to share and get some advice. I have just been told by my daughter that her Air Force husband is being transferred to Japan. This includes 3 of my 5 grandchildren, ages 14 and twins age 9 months. I am totally devastated! I feel like my heart is being ripped out. The 14 year old and I are extremely close; she will be an adult when she returns! The twins will be strangers! How do I deal with this? I feel like I am mourning a death. Any advice is appreciated.

maryskid Thu 22-Nov-12 12:41:40

Thanks for all your messages so far. I do skype my son so we are in touch. I will keep posting.

grannyactivist Wed 21-Nov-12 21:40:14

Maryskid - my daughter and her husband moved to New Zealand earlier this year so I do understand the wrench it is to know that your family is so far away. However, they won't be lost to you; you will see them again; you can Skype (it's immediate and it's free); phone - and if your finances are up to it there will be exchanges of visits. It's hard, but you will find it's bearable. Keep posting and you'll find lots of grans are in similar positions and will be happy to offer support/advice/a forum for sharing your feelings etc. flowers

Butty Wed 21-Nov-12 21:31:27

maryskid That's a very tough call and I am sorry you are feeling so down.

I can understand that you're unable to find any positives at the moment, but I really hope you'll be able to enjoy your daughter and family's company to the full whilst they are still so close to you.
Quite a few GN-ers are in the same boat, so keep posting. smile

My son and his family all live in the States. They are happy, well and thoroughly enjoy their life. What more could I ask.

Dresden - A Christmas in China! Wonderful. sunshine

Dresden Wed 21-Nov-12 19:44:07

maryskid sorry to hear that all your GC will be so far away flowers

My two GC live in China and we can't even use Skype (not available in China at the moment). We try to visit as often as possible, normally once every 8 or 9 months, but it's expensive and physically very tiring. We have got used to it and try to keep in touch with phone calls, e mails, and little presents sent through the post.

We miss so much, but our DS and DIL (who is Chinese) try to include us as much as possible and show the GC that they value the English family.We are getting ready to go over to China next month and will spend our first Christmas ever with the GC, very excited! smile

maryskid Wed 21-Nov-12 19:23:26

My son moved to Perth Western Australia in August and his partner and our 2 children will be joining him as soon as they can find the right house at the right price. I was just getting used to all this when my daughter, son in law and our other 4 grandchildren called and told us they are moving next summer to new south wales, the opposite side of australia to my son. My son in law is a church of england vicar and he has found a parish over there. At present they live in Staffordshire about an hour and a half from us. I just feel as if my world is falling apart and really need to hear from other people in similar situations. Skype is ok but nothing beats physical contact. I just can't find any positives in all this at the moment.

GrandmaPam Thu 27-Sep-12 09:12:16

Thanks to everyone for the advice - all of it good! I booked the B&B, but we have a slight compromise in that our daughter (so the baby's new auntie) will stay with the new parents and baby for one night - keeps our costs down and once she hits the pillow, nobody hears a peep out of her...don't think she will be a possible cause of 'intimidation' to the new parents with a crying baby! Our son and daughter in law happy - they did say they were happy for us (and expecting us) to stay with them, but understand why we've made this decision. I explained that they can't know now how they will feel, but even though its 30 years ago now, I can remember how I would have felt! We will be with them most of the time anyway, just not the nights...and we will stay with them next time and in the future, so everyone's happy.

janeainsworth Tue 25-Sep-12 15:47:50

Hello GrandmaPam, I agree, go for the B&Bsmile.
Your little grandchild might be less than a week old on Oct 7th and your son and partner will be finding their feet, and it will be easier for them if they have some privacy, though of course they will be very glad of your help too.
We live 4 hours' drive away from DD and when she was expecting DGD, they said we could go and see them the day after DD came out of hospital for about an hour (!) The same visiting rights were extended to SiL's parentssmile.
They wanted to be on their own for the duration of SiL's 2 weeks' paternity leave, and then could I possibly go down for a week when he went back to work.
I really enjoyed looking after my DD and DGD and I can promise you there is just nothing like the joy of holding your grandchild in your armsflowers