Like most parents, my wife and I just assumed that when our kids grew up and left our Whitby home to start their own, they would live close enough by that a new tradition of regular Sunday family meals and impromptu visits would ease us into being empty nesters. So when our oldest son and his wife moved to Winnipeg to pursue their dreams, our dream came to an abrupt and unhappy conclusion. We were forced to dream a new dream.
When they started their own family the physical distance that separated us was at times almost too hard to bear. Over time, we came to accept our new reality and looked forward to the visits at Christmas and summer and other opportunities to connect such as birthdays and weddings of their friends “back home”. Facetime became a welcome means to communicate, especially during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when nobody was moving between provinces, by plane or by car! It became a way for our grandchildren to know us, and for us to share in their lives as they moved quickly through their early years.
When I was approached by Tanya Yuen, our Children and Family Ministries Associate in the CBOQ to read and review a book on grandparenting, I immediately said that I was a poor candidate because our grandkids lived so far away. I was surprised to hear that this in fact made us perfect candidates. Wayne Rice’s book entitled: Long Distancing Grandparenting is a welcome resource to any grandparents who find themselves simply too far away from the little ones in their lives.
Not only is this easy-to-read 100 pager chocked full with ideas on how to connect with your grandchildren and ways to have fun with them over “the many miles”, but how to work toward building a meaningful spiritual relationship with them. It begins with laying a foundation of what our Christian life needs to look like as our lives move from parenting children to parenting young adults who have children of their own. What is our role in their lives and what is our role in the lives of our grandchildren? What is the biblical role of the grandparent? Rice challenges us to look at our retirement years (or our “distance years”) as more than just a new opportunity to travel, downsize and enjoy life on our own terms, but instead to become influencers in the lives of our grandchildren; to become more than just loving grandparents, but to become those senior family members who intentionally look for ways to make a life changing spiritual impact on the lives of their grandchildren.
Each chapter ends with several pointed thoughts for reflection and action, making the book more than just a “how to” resource, but an attempt to get us to move our lives meaningfully and strategically in the right direction so that we can make Christ known to the little lives we love and who, despite the distance, our still very much within our reach.
This a great little read, easy to cover in only a few hours that not only challenges grandparents, but provides the resources to take advantage of the distance that we can so easily feel has denied us of our dream.
Ross and Susan Carkner live in Whitby, ON where Ross has recently retired as the Senior Pastor at Whitby Baptist Church.