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.

Greatnan Mon 02-Jul-12 20:43:48

It is easier when the gc are older and can keep in touch by Facebook, e-mails and phone. I am in contact in one way or another with seven of my ten gc on a regular basis and get news and photos of my great-granddaughters too. I have found emotional estrangement far more difficult to deal with than geographical distance.

FlyingGranny Thu 26-Jul-12 18:58:27

My username of Flying Granny says it all: 3 grandchildren in Quebec, Canada, my daughter gets up early on odd Sunday mornings for a good long phone chat courtesy of 18185 calls at 1/2p a minute, we prefer it to Skype and calls dropping. 3 grandchildren in Quito Ecuador, their ADSL uploading time is not good and small children twitch around out of focus and apart from sticking their face into the camera to show me a new tooth they'd rather scamper off to play. The time differences are quite a problem.
Two more grandchildren in Italy. At least I can afford the occasional five seats on Ryan Air for them to come for visits which is impossible for the transcontinental families, so it's up to one of me to fly. Then I worry about invading their space for a STAY as opposed to dropping in for a coffee and how the son-inlaw or d-inlaw feels about that, or even one's own children for that matter. Not easy.

My 9 yr old GD in Italy is a whizz at writing colourful emails full of emoticons, exclamation marks and the most wondrous Italian phonetic spelling of English, one has to take a run at it and read with a strong Italian accent. I circulate them to a few friends who relish them almost as much as I do.

Greatnan Thu 26-Jul-12 19:02:44

Flying granny, I know what you mean about having to stay for several weeks to make it worthwhile. I have been to New Zealand twice and each time stayed for six or seven weeks. I have a very good relationship with my son in law, but I did worry about outstaying my welcome. Now they have asked me to go and live in their garden in a little prefabricated cottage, I know he really means it when he says he is glad to have me around!

GrandmaPam Tue 25-Sep-12 11:25:18

I've just registered so not sure if I'm doing this in the right place, but this conversation thread seems to be pretty much what I'm after.
I'm about to be a first time Granny (any day now). We live in the north of England, and my son and his partner in the south - apart 6 hours drive generally. Baby is due any day (5 days over at present), and we are planning to spend a few days with them week beginning 7th October - so all being well, the baby will be at least one week old.
My husband and I can't agree on where to stay; I want to be able to help them as much as possible, so stay with them to be on hand. He thinks they will need to still establish a routine, especially at night-time, and that we would be better staying in a B&B but just spending days with them (or just with baby, letting them get some relaxing time on their own). He asks me to try to remember how it felt to be new parents, and how would we have felt if our parents (for me, specifically my inlaws) came to stay one week in...I can't imagine, because we didn't have that scenario, as we lived close by.
I don't know what to do for the best? Has anyone got an opinion?

Butternut Tue 25-Sep-12 11:34:42

Hi GrandmaPam - Hoping all goes well ......

Several ways to go with this I feel. First is to ask your son what he thinks would be best for your daughter-in-law and the new baby - after all this is a time where their needs are the more important as it's such a special time.

Personally, I'd book into a B&B - and take it from there. You can still be as hands on as possible - but just giving them their own time and space at each end of the day.

Think your husband is spot on.

annodomini Tue 25-Sep-12 11:46:11

Tell them you are booking in to a B&B. If they throw up their hands in horror and look hurt, perhaps you could stay with them if they look relieved, then it's the B&B. My parents came to stay when I had my babies and I was very pleased to have them, especially the first time when I was very anaemic after the delivery and felt a bit weak and watery!

johanna Tue 25-Sep-12 11:50:01

Agree with butter: your husband is spot on.
Dare I say that three days is probably enough?

GrandmaPam Tue 25-Sep-12 11:56:47

Thanks Butternut, Annodomini and Johanna......unfortunately it would seem (yet again) that my husband is actually wiser than me! I did think of asking my son for his opinion, but he's so nice that he would never say 'don't stay with us'! I think we'll book in B&B and just re-assure them that we will stay all evening if they want to go out - we will literally just be sleeping away. Also Johanna....I agree (yes!) that three days is going to be enough - not for me, but for them. It is a life-changing thing for them, and they will definately need time on their own - don't want to eat into my son's paternity leave too much!
I'm so glad I joined this forum....I feel so much better

Greatnan Tue 25-Sep-12 12:08:41

My daughter in NZ has no very young children but I know she values her privacy and she is often busy with Riding for the Disabled. I am quite happy to borrow her car and take myself off for the day,exploring the wonderful countryside of South Island. They do take me for days out but I make a point of giving them some money for each week I am there as I know their petrol bills increase. On my next trip in Feb/March, which is for six weeks, I am taking one week to go down to Fjiordland and another to have a snorkeling trip, probably to New Caledonia. I have also offered to house/dog/cat/sheep/teenager sit if they want to have a few days away on their own.
They know I don't need babysitting and am happy on my own.
They had several holidays at my various gites in France and they usually bought all the food for the whole family, which was very welcome. I get on extremely well with my SIL but I would hate it if I thought I was encroaching too much on his good nature.

harrigran Tue 25-Sep-12 12:34:20

Welcome GrandmaPam. When my first GD was born I visited every day but went home at night, I live in the north east and 40 minutes travelling from DS and Dil. I think they thought they could manage without help but after a CS it was a case of all hands on deck. A very different story for second GD, an elective CS and coinciding with GD1 starting pre-school. DH and I moved into DS's and took over childcare and meal preparation and so on. Worked quite well as DIL became ill with chest infection and needed medical care too. We stayed only until DIL said she thought she could manage and DS was on paternity leave too.
I think it is important not to outstay your welcome and do what we always say ... bite your tongue, they have all these books you see that tell them how to do things properly hmm

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.