Saying Goodbye To Grandparents

by farrah on August 17, 2013 · 15 comments

The hardest part of being an expat parent is upon us. We’re saying goodbye to the grandparents today- and I don’t think the boys realize it. We’re really not sure how to handle this, probably because we know it’s going to be ugly.


We’ve never lived close to our family- but South Carolina wasn’t that far from Michigan. Yes, the drive was long and tedious but a flight was pretty quick. I think I found it comforting to know that (even though ridiculously priced) we or they could fly down fairly easily. Here, not so much.

The boys have really enjoyed their time with the Gparents these past two weeks, and I am sure that for them the amount of change and growth over the past year is just mind-boggling. I can’t imagine having the feeling of three little boys that I love and adore living so far away from me. Makes me wonder where they might fly off to when they’re grown- and I really will have to deal with it myself as well.

So today I’m calling on any of you that are out there and deal with this sort of thing on a regular basis. The twins are 2.5 and B is 4.5, so this is the first time it’s really making sense to them. The next couple of weeks are going to be difficult- as I know I am going to be faced with ‘I miss Grandma’ over and over and over. Not that it’s not ok- but I want to try to help them be less sad. School is a good distraction- but what else?

I’m hoping my own parents can come over next year. They have a free ticket- so it’s just about getting them here. Additionally a shout out to my mom today. It’s her birthday 🙂 Happy birthday to Oma!

Please share your tips, blog posts- articles, anything. Just hoping for the best here!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ace August 17, 2013 at 7:15 am

We’ve tried saying that’s it’s okay to miss our visitors, but that we can be happy by remembering the fun things we did with the visitors. Sometimes this works, other times not so much.

We also let Little Man “write” his own e-mails to whomever he is missing. We’ll set aside a few minutes to watch him as he taps the keys (sometimes we provide a translation if he wants us to) and then have him watch us send it. (His keystrokes have started becoming surprisingly deliberate, too.) Our family has always been great about sending a response back right away, so then he has fun listening to the response. And on days he’s too rough with the computer, we have him write/color a letter instead and have him put the envelope in the post box himself.

Good luck!


2 farrah August 19, 2013 at 6:48 am

That’s a great idea! I think he would love that, really. Thank you!


3 Andrea, Passports And Pushchairs August 17, 2013 at 11:17 am

Hugs! I know how hard it is. Make a set time for skyping with them, we do it every Saturday during breakfast. The kids are at the table and occupied and they can talk. Yours would have to be later, obviously 🙂 Have them draw pictures to send to them, and have the grandparents send letters/postcards/cards in the mail so it is exciting to get them.


4 farrah August 19, 2013 at 6:49 am

I need to get the Gparents all on board with the Skype thing. It really is so easy- for us a good time would be right before bed- since we usually need a time filler for that last 30 minutes or so 🙂


5 Ann August 17, 2013 at 11:24 am

I read this great article about this a while back and I agree with everything Andrea said. Plus, it’s really great that the grandparents came over so that the boys can have memories of them on their turf.


6 farrah August 19, 2013 at 6:50 am

That’s actually a really great point. Having the memories HERE I think helps, I hadn’t even thought of it that way. Y’all are so smart 🙂


7 Jennifer F. - American Mom in Bordeaux August 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Saying goodbye is always hard. My daughters are now 5, 9.5 & 12.5 – we’ve been here 2 years. Before we moved here, they were all very close to my parents (even though we lived 4 hours apart – we did manage to see them every few months.) My father passed away 6 months before we moved – so our move was made even harder. Luckily my mother has managed to come over each year – and stay for close to a month.

Yes, saying goodbye is always the hardest….We Skype and email. We talk about that it’s okay to miss her and it’s even okay to cry if we are really sad. Most of the time, I found my girls just needed to feel justified in their feelings and then they moved on.

If we are touring around, we will also talk about how “Nana” will like this when she comes again. I think talking about her also helps them indirectly feel close. (We even do the same about my dad, and talk about how much he would love certain things and he’s probably looking down from heaven laughing with us!)

I’m sure you will find what works for you and your boys. Happy start of school. We start back on Sept. 3rd. Just finished school supply shopping today.


8 farrah August 19, 2013 at 6:52 am

Wow- yes, I can imagine that makes it very difficult on all of you. But what’s great is that she can come for a month! I also wonder how this being the ‘norm’ at such an early age might impact this? I was very close to my grandparents at the same age of your daughters- and until they had all passed.

Good luck with the start of school!


9 Laura August 17, 2013 at 7:22 pm

It is always hard for my kids too. We just tell them that we will see them again (in a certain time frame) and they can write letters and send things to them. It usually takes them about a week to readjust with the first day being the worst.


10 farrah August 19, 2013 at 6:53 am

Luckily- we had another set of visitors that arrived the same day as they left! They brought their 3 year old little girl and I think the distraction helped tremendously. So we sort of cheated- but survived 🙂 And you’re right about the week timeframe. I think that’s about how long we will need.


11 Chasing the Donkey August 17, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Awww Mama, I think it sounds like it will be harder for you than them – I can hear it in your voice.

First of all chin up, you have a great life where you are and because of that you REALLY appreciate your folks. So, any people don’t know what they have in family and friends, as they love around the corner. You know how important they are, and you show it and they know it.

As for the boys and how to deal with the situation, I am not sure as my little one is only 1 year old and he did not notice when his Grandma left this week, after her being here with is for 3 months. Because your boys are bigger, maybe making a scrapbook / photo book of the fun they had with the Grandparents, could help? That way you can whip it out and talk about the fun stuff when they (and you) are missing them.

Big hugs, from one expat, to another.


12 farrah August 19, 2013 at 6:56 am

Thanks! And I can imagine how hard that is for you as well. The lives we have as expats are equal parts as joyful as they are difficult- you know? Of course you do 🙂


13 Jennifer Zare August 26, 2013 at 11:45 am

Hey Farrah.

A sweet book about loving and missing loved ones and our connection to them no matter where they are is called “The invisible string.”. It has helped Aisley a lot. I love the book. 🙂

Hope you all are doing fabulous. Love hearing about all of your adventures.



14 farrah August 26, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Thanks!!! I can even have Jane look for it since we have a package coming soon. She can write a message in it for them 🙂
We’re good! Pretty quiet now that school is back in. Hope ya’ll are well and Heather told me she’s visiting you now. So glad!


15 Robbie September 1, 2013 at 5:26 pm

We did lots of phone calls and my kids drew pictures and “wrote” letters to the. We would often talk about things that reminded the of my parents. I also shared stories about when I was little and had to say goodbye to my grandparents.


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