Q: Hi Jackie, I adopted my stepchildren when they were young children (their mum had died [...]
Ask Jackie: Family moving to Australia… how will I cope?Created by Jackie Highe in Age: At School, Age: Baby & Toddler, Age: Pre-school, Ask Jackie, Long-distance Grannies
Q: My daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren who are 7, 4 and 15 months will be leaving us sometime next year to go and live in Australia. We are happy for them and excited for their move but inside feel devastated. They are a huge part of our lives and we see them lots and have the children to stay over regularly. I don’t know how we’re going to cope as I’m so close to my daughter and love them all to bits. I’m trying to think and act positively and we really want them to live their lives to the full but inside I’m falling apart. Waiting for them to go is so hard and every moment with the children is so special and a little sad. Have you got any advice for me on how to cope with the separation and remain supportive?
A: There’s no use pretending that this isn’t going to be hard for you. Of course you’ll miss them – not just the big picture, but all the little details you’ve been so involved in. You’re being marvellously unselfish, positive and encouraging, and for this alone you deserve a medal – it can’t be easy to hide how bereft you are.
That’s the downside. The upside is that you are such a close family. You all love each other very much, and that means they’ll miss you as much as you’ll miss them. This is important because it means there’s motivation on both sides to stay in touch.
Try to arrange to see them once a year – either they come to you or you go to them. And I know a family in your situation who meet up halfway and have a holiday together.
But these days it’s very easy to stay in intimate touch by the magic of VOIP – voice over internet protocol. If both sides have broadband you can talk to each other through your computers/laptops. Chat as long as you like – computer to computer it’s free, and it’s cheap computer to phone. Or go to an internet café, or even your library, and they’ll help you do it. You can have dinky little computer cameras on both sides of the globe and make faces at each other, wave, look at pictures they’ve drawn, whatever. The best bit is that you can see all the changes that are happening as they grow – and the children won’t forget what you look like.
And then there’s email. It’s fast, dirt cheap, and you can exchange pictures, music – anything you think will interest each other.
But don’t forget good old snail mail. Children love receiving things through the post addressed to them – letters, postcards, little parcels. Don’t wait for a birthday or Christmas, get a regular Wells Fargo going back and forth. If you start straight away you’ll be their third dimension. And that matters, because it’s important to your grandchildren to keep you in their lives. You’re their roots and they love you. They need you to tell them about their ancestors. And the time will come when you can help them with school projects, too.
Keep your chin up – the world is a much, much smaller place than it used to be. And love makes it go round, remember.