How to Be a Long-Distance Grandparent


When the Ground Shakes

Our lives changed a year ago last January. The birth of one tiny baby girl shifted our world. It led to more travel, more Face Time, more photos, more fun.

Now the ground is trembling under our feet again.

We found out Friday that we have another granddaughter due this October!

have a sister have a friend


The only thing I don’t like is the physical distance between us and them.

We’re three hours away, which isn’t far compared to many of you (more than half of all grandparents are more than 200 miles away from their grandchildren), but much farther than I’d like.

Long-Distance Grandparenting

I want to be an intentional and present grandparent, despite the distance. That’s why I love this new book by Wayne Rice, Long-Distance Grandparenting: Nurturing the Faith of Your Grandchildren When You Can’t Be There in Person.

Long-Distance Grandparent

If you also are looking for a resource full of encouragement and practical tips on how to be a long-distance grandparent, this is it. Rice says that “distance can be an opportunity” and that it’s possible to have an even better relationship because you’re not taking it for granted.

(But this book can be just as useful for grandparents who live next door to their grandchildren.)

Rice emphasizes a strong prayer connection.

“The most important and reliable connection between a long-distance grandparent and his or her grandchildren is prayer.

With God, there is no distance at all between us and our grandkids.”

Rice shares specific requests we can pray for each grandchild, and also how we can use those prayer needs to boost conversations with our grandkids.

He also encourages us to be a planner. If we don’t already know how to best use a calendar, now is the time.

“One of the reasons why some long-distance grandparents neglect to visit their grandkids is simply because of poor planning.”

Other suggestions include:

  • how to create a grandparenting budget
  • tips for visits with your grandchildren (before, during, and after)
  • ideas for grandparent camps/mission trips/service
  • how to use both snail mail and technology to keep regular communication strong.

Be Yourself

Rice includes a 10-point summary at the end of the book, culminating with #10:

“Remember, something is always better than nothing. Don’t try to be the perfect long-distance grandparent. You will not only fail but your grandchildren may want to have you committed. Be yourself and do whatever you are able to do.”

It would be impossible to do all the things suggested in this book, but even implementing a few new ideas makes the book worth the read.

I’m still a rookie in the grandparent department. I have a lot to learn about being a grandparent in the way that fits both my personality and my individual grandkids.

I’m especially grateful that I have examples of wonderful grandparents around me, including the advice repeated in this book:

“Remember that your God-given role as a grandparent is to pass your faith in Christ on down the line.”

Hearing the fast, strong heartbeat of our newest grandchild last Friday made my own heart beat faster, too.

I also want it to beat stronger. 

baby girl

* * *

Are you a grandparent? Or been blessed with wonderful grandparents? What advice can you give new grandparents? Please share in the comments.

My thanks to Net Galley
for the review copy of this book

27 thoughts on “How to Be a Long-Distance Grandparent

  1. bill (cycleguy)

    Yes I’m a grandparent who lives 4 hours away. (Unless you are older like me and Jo and it takes a little longer due to several stops). 🙂 But I miss spending time with him and going to his games. I am not retired so I can’t just pick up and go. I do pray for him every day though. Been trying to do that since he was born. Before he was born. Won’t stop either.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re a great example of a godly grandparent, Bill. I know you still manage to make lots of time for your grandson despite the distance and the demands of church life. I’m watching you, brother.

  2. Cindy Burgess

    Such exciting news for your family!! We can’t wait to meet her!!! Another baby girl on the way!! Thanks for sharing about long distance grandparenting!! It is hard and fun!!! I’m planning to read the book you recommended!! Love you, Lisa!!!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you, Cindy! We’re super excited! I know you are excited for your #5 to get here before much longer too. I can’t wait to see if Whitney has a boy or a girl! You’ve been such an excellent nearby and long-distance grandmother both. I can’t imagine the balance that takes. I think you’ll enjoy this book, too. Love you much!

  3. Pam Ecrement

    Congratulations, my friend! These are such fun times! This is also a great topic since so many of us are long-distance grandparents (350 and 520 miles for us). What’s been key for us is to savor memories and make as many as we can. When we were both working the trips were very short and farther apart, but we made many many and were bleary-eyed at work on Mondays as a result. BUT they will be growing faster than you can imagine and now we have more time, but they are out and gone or away at colleges or working. What we face as long-distance grandparents is what we face everywhere else….transition and adapting as best we can even when our hearts yearn for more time and less distance. In the last few years a key way we have been involved with 3 of ours in college has been texts for prayers about projects, reports, exams, and relationships. None are married yet…that will be another leap.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you, Pam. These definitely are fun times! I have loved learning from how you stay connected with your grands through the ages and stages. I can hardly imagine our little Riley being a big sister, so I definitely can’t imagine her going away to college. ha. But hopefully one day we’ll get to see all those things. I appreciate your example, friend!

  4. Martha J Orlando

    We are blessed grandparents to three beautiful girls, Lisa, and thankfully, we do not live far away, so we get to see them often. In fact, our eldest, Virginia, will be spending the weekend with us, and I can’t wait to see her!
    The book you’ve recommended here sounds awesome, too.
    And I know you’re so excited about a second grand arriving in October. Enjoy special moments with all of the grands!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You are so blessed to live near your granddaughters, Martha. (And they are blessed too). My kids grew up close to both sets of their grandparents so I do know what a joy it is.

      Yes, we are very excited about #2 coming in October! I need to get rested up between now and then. 🙂

  5. Laurie

    Congratulations, Lisa! There is nothing better than being a grandparent, even a long-distance one. The photo of you and your granddaughter is precious! I bet you don’t spoil her one bit. I am literally reading this as I sit in the airport after visiting my grandson in Colorado for 12 days. It was so hard to leave! The only saving grace is that we already have our tickets to return for his birthday in July.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m trying to spoil her every chance I get. 🙂 I’m glad you had such a long visit with your grandson! (And I’m currently in a hotel in Colorado with my husband on business.) But yes, there is always the saving grace of the NEXT visit on the horizon. That keeps me going too.

  6. Barbara Harper

    Congratulations! How exciting!

    My folks lived 1,000 miles away, and my husband’s 2,000 miles away in the days before FaceTime and Skype. So I appreciate all the more living in the same town as my grandson. I know it might not be that way forever, though I hope so.

    This sounds like a great resource!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Whew, that was a LONG distance away, Barbara. I’d guess that was difficult. 🙁 My own grandparents were 4 hours away, but my parents were close by when we were raising our own kids. We did make road trips periodically to see my grandparents, and they to see us until it became too hard on them. Jeff’s grandparents were close, though, so I enjoyed having them around once we got married. I’m so glad that you get to be nearby for Timothy. I see how much you love him and how much he loves you!

  7. floyd


    It’s not perfect, but our Father’s plans are…

    Good for you for having the right attitude. I know it’ll make a difference in your grand-babies!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Floyd. This: “It’s not perfect, but our Father’s plans are…” Now that’s a good attitude! Thanks for that nugget. I’ll hold that thought close.

  8. Linda Stoll

    Oh, Lisa, this is so exciting! Yet one more little one to love. You’ll be amazed at how your capacity to spread love expands with each addition to your family. Such grace, such fun!

    We’ve always been long distance grandparents. I’m especially enjoying this season as our oldest two are in their teens now. We get to text back and forth and I love this way of connecting so much.

    To see the next generation of little ones grow into young adulthood is joy indeed.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m encouraged by your comment, Linda! I know my heart will expand for the next one but it’s hard to imagine reproducing that amount of love again and again. ha. But I know that’s what happens! I’m also encouraged that you’re especially enjoying the teen years; that’s not something I want to think about yet, but I’d rather look forward to it than dread it. 🙂

  9. Joanne Viola

    Congratulations! This is such an exciting time for you all! We have three granddaughters and they all live close. I have watched each of the them while their parents work and it has been my joy! Whether far or close, the best advice I have is to enjoy every moment and pray for them to come to know the Lord at a young age. It is what I am doing which gives me a deep hope knowing the Lord will be faithful. Blessings to you all!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Joanne! We’re very excited! I love your advice to pray, pray, pray. I’m already praying for the newest one. Seeing her on the ultrasound (and finding out she’s a “she”) makes it all so real!

  10. Carlie

    Such delightful photos, Lisa! Although I’m not a grandparent, I love the sentiment that with God, there is no distance at all between us and our ‘relatives’. I, too, have family living far away, including nieces and nephews, in whose lives I want to shine the love of Christ. This is a good reminder for me, as well. Blessings to you and yours. Your grand-kids are very blessed to have you in their lives.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, the idea doesn’t have to apply only to grandparents but to any of us! I’m sure you are shining a light in your relatives’ lives, Carlie. It just takes a little more intention on our parts to be “present” when we have that distance to bridge. But God always keeps us close regardless of where we are.

  11. Kela

    Thank you for sharing about this resource, Lisa!! And Congratulations on the coming Grandbaby!!
    I’m a grandma too! Our oldest daughter and her husband have 3 children and right now they’re only 3 hours away. We get to see them (usually day trips if we visit them) every few months. Thankfully when she comes to us it’s for a few days.

    My biggest issue is dealing with jealousy. We’re in a season of life where we still have children at home; with all of their activities and jobs to work, so picking up and seeing the grands and doting on them (monetarily or with gifts) isn’t the way I pictured it would be.
    They have the other set of grandparents that can pick up and go visit for days on end AND buy, treat, and extravagantly spoil them…and I have to admit, that it (wrongly) has me feeling “some kind of way”.

    I have to often check my heart and remember the season that we’re in and its not about out-doing one another, but loving the babies in the way that we can.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, I feel what you’re saying, Kela. My daughter’s in-laws live 2 miles away, and I’m 3 hours away. So the other grandmother gets to see our grandbaby tons more than me. Thankfully she’s a wonderful woman! 🙂 I really admire her very much, so it makes it easier.

      However, that doesn’t remove my own desire to see my granddaughter more myself. Sigh. My season of life is a little different than yours, though, since I no longer have any kids in the house. I’m more free to take off and go for a visit when I feel the need.

      I so appreciate you sharing your situation here. I’m sure many can relate to exactly what you’re saying! I want to follow your example and check my heart often. God can work all things out for our good—and for our grandbabies’ good, too, with or without our weekly presence. 🙂 Blessings to you!

  12. Jean Wise

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I NEED THIS BOOK! just ordered it. I have three grandkids close by and 1.5 – next one coming in June – 3-4 hours away. And there is a difference in the relationship on both sides and the distant one I long to strengthen. Thanks for connecting me with this book.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Congratulations on another grandbaby coming! But I feel your pain with the distance on that side. 🙁 My youngest daughter Jenna lives near me, so when she has grandchildren, I’ll be very close by. I guess if I had to choose, maybe it’s best to have the furthest ones first, since I’m more free to travel back and forth to Morgan’s house now, AND I still have some energy to do it. 🙂

      I hope this book will give you some useful tips. I found it very helpful, maybe not so much for the baby stage, but definitely as time goes by!

  13. Maree Dee

    Lisa – Congratulations! I love the pictures. I am not a grandparent yet, but it was so full of wisdom and fun. I have shared it and saved the book you mentioned. Enjoy your beautiful girls. Maree

  14. Jennifer Lambert


    As a military family, we have never lived close to my parents and the relationship is strained. My husband’s parents passed the first year we married. My kids don’t have grandparents! It’s hard to have a village when the village doesn’t exist or shuns you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *