Deal with the Dilemma of Distance

Thanks for joining us again as we work our way through the Legacy Coalition, “My Declaration” for Grandparents to unpack key ideas in being a grandparent who will guide their grandchildren to know and love Jesus by example.

In our global society with technology advancing at such a rapid pace, the “dilemma of distance” is a factor in grandparenting. The distance may be physical, but the use of technology has also created a distance of communication. Let me explain.

Your grandchildren, whether they are toddlers or teens right now, are growing up in a world far different from the one when you were a teen or toddler. You’ve likely heard the expression “digital native.” They have never known a world that did not include a super computer in their pocket or for the youngest child, being born into homes that include talking to computers (“Hey Alexa… what is the weather forecast for today?) and televisions that play exactly what they want on demand (think Netflix or Disney Plus) and video calls at the touch of a button.

How you communicate with children who have grown up in such a different environment can be challenging. Using tools to speak their digital language is one way to bridge this potential gap. For young children, consider sending them videos of yourself reading a book or asking them questions that parents can play for them. For older children, engage them with text messages that include encouragement from Scripture or a funny meme. (Just don’t expect a reply and consider it a great compliment if you do!)

These are excellent ways to deal with the dilemma of physical distance as well. *Note: Most teenagers no longer use email or Facebook.

Of course we do not want to lose some of our “old fashioned” ways of relating to grandchildren either. Writing cards, calling on the phone, and if you’re local making yourself available to help with occasional childcare are all excellent options. I know a family whose grandmother sent each of her grandchildren a card in the mail every week just to tell them she loved them. Sometimes she included a few dollars of spending money, but mostly she wanted them to know she was thinking of them. Those kids will never forget that!

And as we head into the summer months, whether near or far, “grand camp” is a fun way to intentionally connect with your grandchildren. Although ideal for preschool and elementary aged children, don’t pass up the opportunity to go camping or steal older grandkids away for a special trip! These are wonderful times to share your faith with them and encourage them in all the unique ways that God has gifted them.

The distance may feel great, but you have many tools in your toolbox to bridge the gap!