“I miss you, too.” How many of us grandparents have found ourselves saying that way too often during this coronavirus pandemic? The hugs and kisses and snuggles are beginning to feel like distant memories. Will things ever return to the way they used to be? How can we grandparents be intentionally involved in the lives of our grandkids during this season of social distancing and sheltering in place? Let’s ask God to help us to . . .
How might you use available technology for video chats? What a blessing it is to live in this era when most of us have the possibility to connect with our family members through live video calls for free! With an internet connection on both ends, we can call family members one mile or 1,000 miles away or even 10,000 miles away having immediate voice and visual conversations. If social distancing is keeping you from being with your grandchildren physically, you can be intentional in using this means of being in virtual proximity.
Talk to your kids, getting their permission and input on the best times to make video calls to your grandchildren. Maybe you would want to schedule a regular time each week—or even more frequently—to connect with your grandchildren this way. Especially if your grandchildren are younger, keep in mind the importance of discussing with their parents when the best time to call might be to avoid nap and meal times.
Be intentional with your calls. What questions do you want to ask your grandkids? Is there a special project they’ve been working on that you could ask to see? What Scriptural truths do you want to share with them? Would you like to read them a story during your video chat? Work on a Bible memory verse together? Pray for them? There are so many possibilities to strengthen your ties to your grandchildren through technology even if you can’t be together physically at this time.
How might you connect with your grandchildren spiritually during this pandemic with all its restrictions? Even if you are separated from your grandkids for months on end, you can still engage with them spiritually. For example, if your grandchild is old enough to read, why not work out a plan in which you and your grandchild are on the same daily Bible reading plan? You might even consider getting two copies of a devotional Bible so you can give one as a gift and keep one for yourself. You can discuss with your grandchild what your plan will be for reading the same daily passages, then interact through emails, texts, or video calls about what you’ve been learning together from God’s Word.
Maybe you could have a regular time each week in which you ask your grandchild for specific prayer requests and share yours with them. Then, having prayed together for those concerns, check later with your grandchild on how the Lord is answering them. It takes intentionality, but these shared spiritual endeavors can have a deep bonding effect on the grandparent-grandchild relationship, even if you are physically separated for a time.
Why not send mail and packages? Remember letters? I mean real, handwritten letters that come in the mail? Children love getting mail with their own names on the envelopes. When you write, make it thoughtfully personal, maybe pointing out how you see God’s grace in your grandchild’s life or writing out a blessing.
Then, there’s packages! What child doesn’t love getting a package in the mail from Grandpa and Grandma? If you do send a package, how about asking your kids to let you know when the package has arrived and is about to be opened? Maybe you can connect via a video call to be there virtually when your grandchild opens up your package. Wouldn’t that be fun?
Are you able to plan some outdoor visits? Though the restrictions that have come because of the Coronavirus pandemic may vary from country to country or state to state and change with the passing of time, outdoor visits are still possible in most locales. Do you have some grandchildren who live close enough to arrange an outdoor visit? Maybe you can invite your kids and grandkids to come to your backyard or you can travel to theirs. Could it be possible to meet somewhere for a hike or bike ride with your family?
If getting together during this era a social distancing sounds like it might work out, talk ahead of time with your kids about their comfort level. If your kids request no physical contact with the grandchildren when you are together, respectfully honor that. You can always smile and say to your grandkids, “Virtual hugs!” while you do an air embrace and blow kisses. As challenging as this may be for some of us, let us remember that this, too, shall pass in the Lord’s time.
When we do have contact with our grandchildren during this less-than-desirable season of social distancing, what attitudes should we be modeling for the coming generations? How does the gospel shape our words and demeanors? Galatians 5:22–23 reminds us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Let’s consider a few of those to prompt our hearts:
- Love: Love moves us to seek the welfare of another person, even if it means sacrificing our own preferences. It’s sad to see how polarizing responses to the imposed restrictions have been. Even sadder are grandparents who insist on their own way—either being on the overly strict side or on the overly open side of the spectrum even if that stubbornness jeopardizes opportunities to impact the grandchildren for the glory of God and their good.
- Joy: It’s true. This world we live in is broken due to sin and its affects. But, our Lord loves us. We need no further proof of his love than the cross and the empty tomb. Life around us changes, but the eternal truth of his love does not. Doesn’t that bring a sweet joy in our lives?
- Peace: Isn’t one of the most important lessons we can learn, “He is God and I am not”? When we’re interacting with our grandkids, whether in the backyard or via a video call or a text message, let’s demonstrate our confidence in our Royal Father. He loves us. He is sovereign. We can rest in him.
And, in the Lord’s wise timing, one day we’ll be able to add to “I miss you, too” the hope-filled phrase, “See you soon!” Let’s pray for that day!