Living Abroad - Worldwide

Dealing with long-distance grandparenting - By Rosalind Kent

With today's highly mobile society, there are many families with members who have gone to live overseas. Parents may find their grown-up children either travelling, and deciding to make a new life for themselves overseas, or marrying a foreigner and going to live abroad. The effect of this on the parents left behind can be dramatic, and often devastating, and never more so as when there are grandchildren involved. Frequently the move is to long-haul countries, such as Australia, where a high standard of living and accessible culture draws many emigrating families.

If this situation is all too familiar to you, then you are not alone. Statistics show* that emigration from this country is more prevalent now than at any time since before the First World War, with around 200,000 British citizens leaving the UK annually. It may be that your children have moved due to work commitments or marriage, but it is a hard pill to swallow for those left behind. Not everyone will be lucky enough to have the finances, time or health to make regular visits. Some people, including Anne, a mother of three and grandmother of two, feel the loss of children and grandchildren almost as a bereavement. Anne has two children living abroad, one in Spain and one in New York. She voiced her feelings of abandonment, and grief that she could not be as involved in the life of her four year old grand-daughter. Both her son and daughter moved abroad within a few months of each other. Although Anne has sufficient resources to visit her family abroad fairly regularly, she stresses that it is not the same as having them in the same country.

There are ways in which the inevitable sadness of such a move can be lessened. With the widespread use of the internet, and the increased availability of ever-improving technology, regular and meaningful contact is possible. There are lots of cheap call plans available, but the best way to communicate is via email or Skype. In fact, these methods are not just cheap – they are free! All you need is a laptop, and a few instructions on how to get started. You can sign up to a free email account, such as Yahoo, to write messages and send photographs. But if you miss that face-to-face contact then Skype might be for you. Provided you have a webcam, you will be able to see your loved ones when you call them. It’s easy to use, and you can download it for free from the Skype website ( by following the easy instructions. You will then be able to call any friends or relatives who are also registered. Even if they are not registered you can still call their normal phone. There is a charge for this, but it is cheaper than a standard call.

For when calls are not enough, there are many cheap holiday and flight deals aimed at the over fifties, through companies like Saga. The internet is the way forward for checking all the available deals, and making sure you have the best offer. One website which offers a useful ‘flight checker’ tool is This is worth a look and is easy to use.

However far afield your children and grandchildren have gone, there are many ways in which you can keep the contact alive. It may not be an ideal situation, but hang in there, explore all your options and make sure you find a way to stay in touch with your long-distance family.

*Office of National Statistics

Article provide by Rosalind Kent _ Freelance Writer


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