Grandparenting from overseas means missing out on big moments in the lives of our loved ones, yet also finding new joys in answering God’s call. Jerry and Liliane are joining us today to share about grandparenting from afar.
So Jerry and Liliane, how many grandchildren do you have? And where in the world do they live?
We have three grandchildren, aged 4, 8, and 9, and another on the way. They all live in Spokane, Washington in the United States.
I’m sure when you visit them you make every minute of it count. What do you do with them on your trips home?
A lot of things. We go bowling and we go for walks and hikes. We read to them, play games, take them to eat, go to the movies, and watch TV. We also make cookies, tell them stories, have conversations, cook, go shopping, do arts and crafts. Sometimes we swing on the hammock or take them skating. We might also go out for coffee and ice cream.
Sounds fun! What will you do when they visit you here?
We will take them out to eat. We will go to the 798 Art streets and visit some art stores. And of course, we will go to the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.
Grandparenting from afar must not be easy. How do you ensure you have influence in their lives from overseas?
We talk to them as much as possible by WeChat and email, and we tell them stories about our lives here.
We all get asked by our loved ones why we live in China and when we will return “home”. How do you answer when it is children asking the questions?
We tell them that God has called us to be here so we don’t know when we will return. We tell them the truth.
Sometimes tough situations surprise us with advantages we wouldn’t have expected. What are some of the advantages of long-distance grandparenting that you have encountered?
Yes, there are good things about grandparenting from a long distance. Learning and sharing with them about different cultures has been a joy. Letting them know there is more going on then where they live in the United States. Modeling the obedience of God’s call on us by living where we live.
What are the hardest parts of grandparenting from afar?
It is difficult to not be able to go to any of their school or church events or to hold them when they are sick.
What advice would you offer other long-distance grandparents?
Set up a weekly time to WeChat or Skype to keep regular communication. Show them you love them and take every opportunity to visit when you can. Send them pictures and email.
That quality time means the world to children. Any final thoughts on grandparenting, from near or far, to share with our readers?
Grandparents can be great influencers in the family. Children look up to their grandparents. We believe that grandparents can create moral stability and influence in the life of a child.
Different cultures around the world view grandparents differently. Most of the time, grandparents are respected and are the heroes of the family. Other cultures, however, don’t care for their elderly and want to ship them out as far as possible.
Grandparents need to live their life to the fullest, communicate with their family, and take every opportunity to visit or care for other family members. Grandparents ought to travel and bring back stories and pictures to their children.
I’m sure your grandchildren are amazed by your travel stories! Jerry and Liliane, thanks so much for sharing with us today.
Last week’s post: Ask a… Long-term Beijinger!