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Long-Distance Grandparenting

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Release Date: 04/15/2020

The Power of Story, Part 3 show art The Power of Story, Part 3

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Emily wraps up the third episode on "the power of stories" with a chat with an executive from Scholastic, Inc.--the source of all those books sold to grade-school students from newsletters and book fairs. Their conversation took place just before World Read-Aloud Day, which framed their talk about grandparents reading aloud to their grands. THE STRETCH IT TAKES (Emily's Essay): The Genetics of Reading   When I visited the home of my maternal grandparents, I don’t remember seeing a book in any room of the house. It was a stark contrast to our own house with books in each room and a...

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The Power of Story, Part 2 show art The Power of Story, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Continuing the theme from last episode, Emily speaks with a 93-year-old grandfather, author, and active advocate of capturing and then "unleashing" grandparent stories. His creative partner in their website adds helpful details about a program that helps grands become powerful and prolific story-makers. SHOW NOTES Jerry and Deanna's website is grandparentsunleashed.com, and  Jerry's book is The Grandest Love, available .

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The Power of Story, Part 1 show art The Power of Story, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

How well do your grands know your story? Emily travels (virtually) to Trinidad to speak with Felicia Chang, a professional in the area of capturing the personal stories of our families, with a special emphasis our elders. Your story has worth and power...and is of priceless value to your grands. EPISODE NOTES Felicia Chang's TEDx Talk about how the stories of our loved ones connect us all is . Her business has a and a . This is Felicia with her dear grandmother, the subject of her movie and the inspiration of her view on capturing stories.

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Distance/Global Grandparenting, Part 2 show art Distance/Global Grandparenting, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Continuing last episode's theme, this time Emily talks with a grandparent in the US and a parent in France whose extended relationships span oceans, languages, and cultures. Adventure seasoned with selflessness is the recipe. THE STRETCH IT TAKES (Emily's essay)   “We’re moving to Brussels.” Those words shocked me even though I was twenty-one, living in my own apartment and working on my graduate degree. My parents called from NH to inform me that my dad had taken a job in Belgium. “Where is that?” was my immediate reply. (I was in grad school for English Lit, and obviously...

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Distance/Global Grandparenting, Part 1 show art Distance/Global Grandparenting, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Back in Season 2, we did an episode on Long-Distance Grandparenting which proved to be a popular subject. When the distances are really long--international--you'd think it would be harder. The pandemic has made distance less of a factor that it once was, so experienced global grandparents can teach lessons almost all of us can apply. EPISODE SHOW NOTES Learn more about Emily's guest, author Helen Ellis, at https://www.distancefamilies.com. Her book will be out in April, 2021. 

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Grandparent Educators, Part 2 show art Grandparent Educators, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Some grandparents have the time, talent, and access to become directly involved with their grands' education. Emily talks with two grandparents and a teacher who have done or seen this firsthand, which may give you ideas on how to approach this in your extended family. SHOW NOTE Learn more about Emily's third guest, Sandra Williams, from her and her book, .  

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Grandparent Educators, Part 1 show art Grandparent Educators, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Grandparents can play a range of roles in their grands' education. In Part 1 on this topic, Emily talks with a retired teacher whose journey through racial segregation in the 1950s shaped her commitment to supporting the schooling of her descendants. Emily's essay is a revealing self-portrait of a third grader, a pen pal, and a missed opportunity Emily's guest Kaaren Rodman provides details on her family's scholarship: "Our family has set up a scholarship that is awarded through the Indianapolis Urban League. Mike and I did smaller grants for several years in the 90's, one for each set of...

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Grandparent Love, Part 2 show art Grandparent Love, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

The centerpiece of this episode is Emily's interview with best-selling author Barbara Graham, who has written about the collected experiences of gifted and famous grandmothers. There are lessons to be learned from her work... and from Emily's essay about loving our grands well with the time we find. Learn more about Emily's guest and her work at .    The Stretch It Takes: Competing With Time (Emily's Essay)   If there’s one thing that this pandemic has taught me, it’s that time looks and feels different to different people, depending on their age and their...

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Grandparent Love, Part 1 show art Grandparent Love, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

To begin Season 4, Emily talks with two members of her network on how to put our love for our grands into action--with purpose, and intentionality, and clever ideas.  The payoff is a richer relationship, even when it's largely a long-distance one. To learn more about our two guests visit and .         

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Spotlight on Emily show art Spotlight on Emily

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

While we take a break between seasons of The Grand Life Podcast, we're inviting host Emily Morgan to the guest's chair for a change. With husband and producer Mike, she covers choosing content, finding guests, and balancing the living of The Grand Life with her podcasting about it.

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More Episodes

When your grands are out of reach, whether by distance or quarantine, the ache can be a deep one. Emily explores the frustrations over this kind of separation, and she uncovers many helpful ideas to close that distance between you and your long-distance grands. 

SHOW NOTES

Dr. Kerry Byrne researches the fields of aging, care, and connection. Her ideas form the web site and blog titled thelongdistancegrandparent.com

Kerry recommends Generations United, which provides thought leadership to form public policy improving intergenerational issues.

Kerry also mentions StoryCorps as a source of questions to use when interviewing a family member. While the idea is to interview someone older, several suggested questions will work for a younger interviewee.

THE STRETCH IT TAKES (Emily's essay): WATS To Remember

  Right about the time I began to walk, our family of five moved eight hours away from my grandparents on my father’s side. My dad took a good job in Buffalo, NY and we left a kind of idyllic farmhouse on Chamberlain Street in NH to settle into the suburbs of Tonawanda, New York.. My unestablished childhood went from a yard of pine trees and sandy streets to one of newly poured cement basements and Niagara Falls Boulevard. As many families in the 1960’s did, we traveled into the unknown and left family behind to enter into a new adventure. 

  Of course, we traveled back to our roots for holidays and summer trips to the beach and the White Mountains. We saw our cousins and we had the usual picnics, and turkey dinners and Christmas stockings together, but our day-to-day didn’t really include family besides our nuclear one. 

  As I age, I have become more aware of what we missed by not living close to our grandparents, but I remember one way, in particular, that our parents made sure that we stayed connected.

  It’s called the WATS line. Ever heard of it? The word is an acronym for Wide Area Telephone Service, and it was a flat-rate long distance service that my dad’s company had, and we took advantage of,  on Sunday afternoons. This was when regular long-distance telephone service was pricey and you paid by the minute. So we would use the WATS line that was already set up and available at my dad’s office. The biggest obstacle to using it was that it required that we all, sometime begrudgingly, pile into the Oldsmobile and head over to my Dad’s office. 

  If you’ve ever seen the series Mad Men, you can imagine my Dad’s office. The only thing lacking is that you can’t smell the phenolic from the factory next door that permeated the whole workplace. Ever noticed the smell of a computer’s motherboard?  It was that smell that defined my father for me...every time I hugged him when he came home, and every time we stepped foot in the office for our Sunday chats with my grandparents. 

  Once the lights were turned on, we walked past the secretary’s desk and right into the conference room that included a large wooden table, swivel chairs, a chalkboard and -  cue the spotlight and music - ….the telephone. 

  We would take our seats, and my dad would dial up the number, make the connection, press one of the clear buttons on the base of the phone, and magically, we would all be on speakerphone...at least for the first parts of the conversation. After that, my parents would talk for what felt like hours while we twirled around on the chairs or scribbled on the chalkboard. If we behaved (which wasn’t a given), we were promised a trip for ice cream at Anderson’s or some donuts.

  So what do I remember about those chats? Practically nothing. But it was the act of chatting that I do remember. The intentionality behind the chat? Will never forget it. The small sacrifice it took to drive a distance and create a connection? Unforgettable. And knowing that my grandparents were there on the other end of the WATS line to receive the call? Priceless

  So what are you doing in your own life to create that timeless connection? What efforts are you making to ensure that your grands will travel through life knowing that you were there on the other end, willing and ready to connect? It takes time, effort, and you might have to convince your own adult children to facilitate. But it’s worth it. When they’re younger, you have to make the calls, but eventually they might reach for the phone and call you. 

  And my guess is, you’ll be on the other end, ready to pick up. 

© 2020 Emily Morgan