July,2017 |  

  • Reflection

When it comes to writing about grandparents, my heart skips a beat. I adore my grandparents; always have and always will. In fact, my Grandad, now in his 90’s is my absolute favourite person in the world. This could be seen as a little bizarre as I am a Third Culture Kid through and through, and very rarely lived in the same country as my grandparents. I saw them maybe once or twice a year at most, but we had something special.

How did we stay so close you ask? We wrote to each other. Simple as that. We kept in touch using a pen and paper. The time we did get to spend together became so incredibly special to me as I guess I knew it was short lived. Not in a sad way, in a kind of “golden time” way. They spoilt me, they shared stories with me, they spent time talking and listening to me, they gave me their undivided attention. I made the most of it, and I always missed them dreadfully when it was time to go again.

“Research shows that adults who were close to their grandparents as children have greater compassion for aging, in themselves and in others.” – Nancy Kalish Ph.D

My children are now living in that same family dynamic; however, they have the wonder of technology at their fingertips. We are living in Australia, and their grandparents are in the UK. Are they any less attached to them? No! Do they see them less often? No! In fact, I think they ‘see’ them more often than ever before as we video call rather than phone.

Video calling is far more “warts and all” than a quick phone call. My parents have certainly noticed the odd pile of ironing in the background, and they have definitely seen a few tantrums first hand; but this ‘real life’ call is what makes it that little bit easier to be so far from home and so very far away from loved ones.

With the awkward time difference there are always times when the children don’t want to sit up and chat, there are times when I can barely get them to look in the direction of the Apple Mac, but I console myself with the thought that at least my parents get to see the real us, and we get to see the real them; pyjamas and bed hair included. It’s as if they “visit” us every time we speak.

“Research indicates that there is more to attachment than the amount of time parents and children spend together, and the same principles apply to grandparent/grandchild bonds. Lifelong attachments between grandparents and grandchildren can form even with relatively short periods of physical contact.”- Nancy Kalish Ph.D

Absolutely as expats far from home, my children miss out on whole days with their grandparents, they don’t get to have Granny & Grandad take them to school, they miss out on being bathed and tucked into bed by them; but they absolutely don’t miss out on the most important thing which is the incredible bond between them all.

The wonderful world of the internet means they are able to read stories together, chat, and share videos and photographs. My parents tell my children precious stories about my childhood, about their childhood, and as one, we keep the family ‘together,’ regardless of distance.

Grandparents have such a special role to play in little people’s lives, and now more than ever, in a time when so many families are spread out all over the world, we need to do everything we can to encourage the closeness between our parents and our children.

‘Distance means so little when someone means so much’ – Unknown

 

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About the author

Olivia is a British mum of two, living in Melbourne.

Having moved all over the world, she is a lifelong ‘expat’, and thoroughly enjoys the adventures that come with a fairly nomadic life overseas. Follow her family’s journey and share their current exploration of Australia at www.thewilsonsofoz.com on Instagram @the_wilsons_of_oz and on Facebook @thewilsonsofoz

GlobalGrandparents: Wales & Somerset, UK

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The world may be getting smaller, but staying in touch with family, especially when separated by large distances, still proves a challenge.