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Distance/Global Grandparenting, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Release Date: 03/15/2021

Recollections 7 show art Recollections 7

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Did your grandparents have style? Emily asked her guests in Season 4 to recall what defined the styles they remember defining their own grandparents. Also, Emily invites Mike (husband and producer) to preview upcoming topics we'll cover in the rest of this season of The Grand Life.

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Meeting Paula Span show art Meeting Paula Span

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Emily sits down with New York Times columnist Paula Span, who has taken her reporting on aging and grandparenting and mixed it with her own experiences as a new grandmother (or Bubbe, as it is in Yiddish). The result is a fun new audiobook that shares what she's learned from a bunch of smart people, including her granddaughter. Paula's audiobook The Bubbe Diaries is available on . Her  are called "Generation Grandparent."

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Pre-Grandparenting show art Pre-Grandparenting

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Can you start grandparenting before the birth? Absolutely, says Emily's guest Gail Root. She is a student, teacher, and advocate for practices both past and present that acknowledge a pre-born baby's ability to connect with the outside (the womb) world. Also, a check-in on a new web resource for first-time grandparents. SHOW NOTES Emily's guest, Gail Root, counsels new grandparents at her web site . DeeDee's website, More Than Grand, has released . This link applies the discount code GRAND, and you'll receive 10% off your purchase!

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Grands With Addictions show art Grands With Addictions

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Your relationship with your grands may allow you to spot problems before distracted parents may notice them. Emily talks with author Richard Capriola, who focuses on teens with addictions and gives advice to grandparents who may uncover or suspect addictions or abuse. EPISODE NOTES Richard's book is Emily also mentioned Fern Schumer Chapman's new on sibling estrangement. If you'd like to learn more about the issues her new book addresses, Fern is recommending on the topic from broadcast television. Her interview with Emily is in Season 3, Episode 8, "Grandparent Caregivers." 

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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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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 not for Geography). I don’t really remember their reply. All I remember is feeling a sense of abandonment. My parents would no longer be a two-day drive away. They would now be an ocean away. And this was before cell phones and FaceTime. 

  Once I got over the shock, I employed something I have since learned  is called “reframing.”   Back then, some friends helped me work through it. “Maybe you can go visit. Have you ever been to Belgium? That is so cool. I mean what’s the difference between an 18 hour drive and a six hour flight?”

  They were right. It’s all how you look at it. I could feel left behind; or I could feel liberated and recognize that my world would soon be expanding. In fact, it already had. Now I knew where Belgium was. Next step? I would be visiting there for Christmas break. 

  One of my favorite parenting books is called The Danish Way of Parenting. It’s also not a bad one for grandparents, because it’s a book about raising confident and capable kids - something we as grandparents want to see happen as we come alongside our own children who are raising their own kids. In the book, the authors talk about the concept of reframing. That is, using language to create a perception shift. In order to be resilient in difficult situations, we all need to find alternate storylines. That is what my friends helped me do when I was floundering after that phone call. 

  Honestly, I have never been good at reframing. It takes practice. I have been more like the character, Isabelle, in the novel Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout. In this unorthodox book about aging, one of Strout’s characters, Isabelle, who is now in a nursing home says of her only daughter, “ The truth is Olive, Amy is good to me, but she does live in Iowa, and I sometimes think when a child moves that far away they’re really trying to get away from something, and in this case I suspect it’s me.”

  That’s one way to frame a long distance relationship. But how about if Isabelle, instead, tried to put a different frame around that picture? Perhaps that’s where the daughter, Amy, had found a job she liked, or enjoyed being in a region different from Maine, which can be cold and unaccommodating. Maybe, she was homesick and hoped to get back to Maine at some point but didn’t find it financially viable? Or maybe she simply had built a life she wasn’t prepared to leave. In any case, there are multiple other ways to look at it.  And just as Amy wasn’t moving away from her mother, my parents weren’t abandoning me. At least that’s how I would eventually frame it. But it took some time for me to get there, that’s for sure. 

  So, here’s the stretch. As grandparents who may need to say a long goodbye to our grands who are moving very far away, we need to reframe the situation as best we can and not take it personally or wallow in our sad thoughts about how little we’ll see them. Instead, we can be happy for them and all the experiences they will have, and that we will have with them, if we can. I look back now on my travels to Belgium and other places in Europe, and I am very thankful that my parents decided to move there. It was fun for them, and I learned so much I never would have known...including how to change the way I look at things. 

© 2021 Emily Morgan