Grandfamilies: Three Ways to Remain Close When You’re Far

story time

Dinosaur Stories with Ayden and Cadence. September 2008.

As I write this week, I am thinking of one friend and heart-sister who is in the midst of moving far from one family of grandchildren, yet close to another. These changes claw at our grandparents’ hearts. Yet when it comes to grandparenting across the miles, creativity and technology can unite to provide us with  unique ways to stay connected with our distant loved ones. Make it special by choosing methods that embody and celebrate your one-of-a-kind relationship with your grandlittles. Here are three broad ideas, along with suggestions to make them resonate with you and your grandchildren.


Choose from several exciting options for reading together.

For small children:

  • Record your voice reading a book and then mail the book. Search “recordable children’s books” to find titles that include  the necessary electronic doodads.
  • Buy an e-book with audio  included so the child can listen to the story.
  • Use Facebook Live, Skype, Google Hangouts, or a similar service to read the story to them in real time. This method works best if you and the child both have a copy of the story in hand.

For bigger grandkids:

  • Choose a chapter book and make a date to read together regularly. You can take turns reading to each other via phone, Skype, or any of the other live services we already mentioned.
  • Start your own book club with your grandchild(ren.) If your collection of grandlittles includes siblings or cousins who are within the same age range, include them all. Let them take turns choosing the book and leading discussions.

For all of them: Read the Bible together. I recommend starting with The Jesus Storybook Bible for the youngest children, then moving on to The Adventure Bible for older children. Save time during your reading dates to talk about what you’ve read together.

Send Them Mail.

Honest-to-goodness mail is rare today–but remember your excitement when your name was on the envelope or package the letter carrier delivered? The thrill isn’t gone. What to send?

  • Postcards. It’s hard to beat a pretty picture and a sweet note from Grandma and/or Grandpa.
  • Stuff. We recorded a message in a teddy bear that came with a recordable doodad and sent it to grandson Sawyer while he lived on Hawaii. It seems he liked it:

Sawyer marchingSawyer, Marching with His Talking Bear. Pearl Harbor, 2011.

  • Surprises needn’t be expensive to be delightful. How about a new comb before picture day at school? A teether for an infant? New hair ribbons for your long-haired granddaughter? Classics like a Slinky or Silly Putty are inexpensive treats. Older grands appreciate goodies that show you’re paying attention to their interests. An athlete who runs might appreciate glow-in-the-dark slap bracelets to improve visibility as the days grow shorter. A budding musician would love clarinet reeds or guitar picks. You get the idea.

Do “You” Long Distance

It’s great to have special activities that mark your time together. With a little ingenuity, you can share those special things long-distance.

  • In our house, our specialties are a walk through the neighborhood and pancakes and bacon for Sunday breakfast. Either event could happen in absentia. I could take a walk and use Facebook Live or a similar service to share video of what I see and hear. In collusion with parents, I could coordinate a long-distance Sunday breakfast together via Skype or another such service.
  • Do you bake together? Send a recipe for a new cookie sensation, then compare notes once you’ve each made a batch.
  • Are movies your thing? Make a date to watch the same movie at the same time (Netflix and its cousins simplify this plan) and then talk about it afterward.

Wherever you are, and wherever your children and grandchildren are, you’re still you and they’re still them. With a little thought, it’s easy to foster not just a healthy relationship, but your one-of-a-kind relationship.

What are your secrets for staying connected across distance? 

rabbit conga

For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

Colossians 2:5 (ESV)

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. Oh, Sheila. I must have something in my eye. Thank you for this! I love these ideas! And I love you.

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