Grandfamilies: Destination Grandlittle


Exploring a New Toy With Sawyer. Christmas 2013; Yona, Guam.

Five Awesome Things About Grandparenting From Afar

Our grandlittles have never lived in our community. Two households-full are within a 90-minute drive; the third set is currently on the opposite coast, after two rounds of island homes. So while I’ve dreamed of being the Lala who could pick the littles up after school or step in to help when Mom or Dad is sick, we’ve never lived close enough to make that a routine occurrence.

It’s not all bad, though, this distance. In fact, it offers a few advantages:

  1. Visits are a thing. They are planned in advance, marked on the calendar, anticipated. While young children are likely to do whatever it is they wish to do, grown-ups attend more fully to the little ones in their midst when time together is an event. Whether it’s a day trip to the train museum with children living just a county away or a visit that begins at the baggage claim, it’s special.
  1. You become a VIP. Okay, this point may sound like an ego thing. But when your time together is limited and demarcated, it’s easier for everyone to focus on one another.
  1. Remember the mail? Children still love to receive mail. Whether it’s a postcard dashed off while waiting for the dentist or a care package of Valentine’s Day goodies (remember to include a treat for the grownups!), mail is special. 
  1. See things their way. When you don’t live in the same town, questions like what is your favorite thing to do here? Or who sells the best ice cream? Or even can you show me around the house? resonate in a way they don’t when everyone’s local. And because children grow and change so quickly, you can ask these questions year after year. I’ll never forget Sawyer, then age four, leading me on a tour of the family’s new home in Charleston during my first visit after they returned from duty on Guam. This is my sister Daphne’s room, he said, opening the door to a pink paradise. It’s kind of beautiful.
  1. Your children get to be the senior generation. Maybe you have faced challenges with stepping back and giving your adult children room to fully occupy their roles as parents. Maybe they have struggled to assume their own parental authority, relying on you in unhealthy ways. Distance alone may not solve this problem, but it gives everyone room to learn new ways of being family.

I’ll admit that I fantasize about the family compound, where all our children and their families live on the same land with us and we can visit at will. It’s not likely. Meanwhile, I remember to give gratitude for the special gifts that distance brings.

rabbit conga

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NASB)

rabbit conga


On Tuesdays, we’re talking about families and the joys and challenges that arise when we stretch across three (or more?) generations (child, parent, grandparent). Everyone is welcome, and I hope to hear each generation’s perspective.  Being family is by turns effortless, impossible, blessed, challenging, hurtful, joyous . . . . Let’s talk about it.

Please join us.


  1. Nancy Franson

    Sigh. I reluctantly have to agree with you here. Still . . .

    So glad you’re writing, and you’re writing about something (and some people) who are so dear to my heart.

  2. We have a mix of both. And some divorce/separation issues in the mix too. Growing up I always loved the long drives to visit grandparents and family. They truly were my VIPs. Every point you made really resonated with me. One thing I would add is the honor to pray for our grands as in many cases, that is the only connection we can have with them whether they are near or far.

    • Kelly, Thanks for your comment. And that’s a great point you make about prayer. Thanks for the reminder!

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