Grandparenting From a Distance


There was recently an article floating around Facebook about living near grandparents and how it is the best gift to your children. I won’t cite the article because I don’t want to point fingers at it. It was well written and heartfelt, but I will write a response to that article. It took me about a month to actually read it because the truth is, I’m still grieving after moving away from my parents with two small children.

We lived in the same city as my parents for two wonderful years when our first daughter was just a baby. My mom watched her while I worked. We had regular dinners at my parents’ house. We had built-in babysitters for easy date nights. They even took her to their house for the night so we could sleep in. It was truly glorious.  Then, we moved and had our second child within a matter of weeks. Needless to say we had some major transitions. 

While I’d love to say that living away from family gets easier, it just doesn’t. 

I thank God everyday for our blessings, but I also pray that one day we can move closer to one of our sets of parents. I recognize the physical and emotional benefits of having regular grandparent involvement. I’ve seen the research and I’ve witnessed it personally. 

That said, in the past year I’ve also experienced a new sense of appreciation for our parents and the distance between us. I now know grandparents can still be a vital part of a child’s development even from far away. With intention and a positive mindset, I believe living away from grandparents can still be just as impactful to children as living close by.

Here’s why:

1. We’ve learned to cherish each moment while we are with our family.

Rather than the regular dinners or drop by visits, our time is spent days on end. We plan fun outings, celebrate holidays and birthdays, or just sit and enjoy a cup of coffee on the porch. Every holiday is a celebration because it’s spent with family. It feels more special to spend time with our parents, whereas before I took it for granted. 

2. Our memories are more valuable.

Now, when I look back at pictures of family vacations or birthday parties, I remember who was there with us. When we look back at the pictures 10 or 20 years from now, we won’t remember the hard times away from our family. Instead we will be able to feel the joy we had spending those precious moments with them.

3. Our visits are more fun.

When we lived in the same city with my parents, we didn’t sleep at their house. When we visit with each other now, we can stay up late watching a movie together or wake up and have coffee. We have more downtime rather than being rushed to get from one place to another.

4. Our family unit is solid.

Since we don’t see family on a weekly basis, every Saturday is a family day. Every supper is a family supper. We dine out with our kids. We bring them with us most places we go. We are a strong support system for each other. 

It’s not always easy to be positive. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a tinge of jealousy every time I see my friends post pictures of random family gatherings. I have days where I just want to mope and feel sorry for myself that I can’t call my mom to come over on a whim. Or ask my father-in-law to come over and fix the broken cabinet door. Or worst of all, be there for a parent when they need us most. 

But at the end of the day, I’m not doing myself any favors by feeling bad. Instead I would rather look forward to our next visit, FaceTime more often, record funny videos on Marco Polo, post pictures on our family iCloud Drive from my daughters’ school activities, and send hand written notes through snail mail. Thankfully, we live in 2019 when communication options are endless!

So, if you’re like me and your parents don’t live nearby, just know you are not alone. Your kids will grow up to be confident, strong, and emotionally intelligent. Don’t let the internet tell you otherwise. It’s all about your perception of what true happiness is.

If you don’t live close to family, how do you cope with it? 


  1. LOVED this! It’s beeb almost 11 years living away from all our family. We have a 6 and 3 year old. It’s still so hard. I get pangs of jealousy at the most random times still. I do LOVE that my family is very close. We have each other and each other only to truly rely on! Well written and refreshing to hear something that isn’t the typical normal!

    • Thanks for your comment, Melissa. I don’t think it will get easier to your point. But I think it’s important to recognize the negative feelings like jealousy and guilt. It’s all about being positive and focusing on the things we CAN control.

  2. Thanks for this Sarah! Your writing rang true to me as I too live a distance from all family while we raise our little one. It is not easy but making memories and cherishing time with our families has become priority during the times we are together.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jessica. Our memories are all that we have in the end, so it makes sense to make the best of our time! And take lots of pictures to remind ourselves of how special those moments were.

  3. We too live far from family (6 hours) and have two young girls, 3.5 and 16 months. It never gets easier and if I’m being honest, it seems harder bc they’re (mainly our oldest) is realizing the distance and talking about everyone all the time. For me it feels like a wound that scabs over and is pulled away with each visit home. Although, the wound isn’t revieled fully until we’re back in our house and the quiet creeps in. I completely agree with all of your points! Time is much more valued than before and I’m always so thankful to have loved ones to miss and long to be around! It took me awhile to open my heart and start letting others in where we live now but once I did, I could see God’s hands all over our paths! I see why we’re at our current location and thankful He’s preparing us for eternity together and not the now! Stay strong and know so many of us carry a longing heart as well!

    • Thanks for your comment, Keisha. I like that you brought up your viewpoint on faith and how it helps you cope. I, too, believe God has a special plan for us in the city. And there is a reason my parents don’t have us near them. Our human eyes cannot understand the work He does, but I’m glad to know you feeling His presence in your current situation.

  4. We moved close to my in-laws right after we had a second baby. I love my in-laws to death and are grateful for them. But my husband and I did not and are not dependent on them. Both of my husbands grandparents also live in the same town, so we have monthly dinners with each of them, which my in-laws come. My in-laws are last resort baby sitters (my third was in the hospital for a week and I stayed with her 24/7, so my in-laws took the other two kids overnight a few nights to help my working husband out). They do want grandkid time sometimes, so they ask for it, and I invite them when I take to kids to the zoo. But we try to rely on our friends and other babysitters first before we turn to my in-laws.
    When I go to overnight youth camp in the summers, we have my mom come up to help out! She and the kids love it! Then she stays an extra week just to hang out with me. I also plan a yearly trip to take the kids to see my parents and they do the same.

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