How Many Visits To Grandma Are Too Many

judge-john-hodgman-square-mustacheIt has taken this Grandma a while to ponder “Judge John Hodgman on Too Many Trips to Ohio With Your Baby,” originally published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine section, July 3, 2016.  Here is the question and his answer.

“Alex writes: My wife and I are from Ohio, and we moved to Belmont, Mass., six years ago. We have a 20-month-old daughter, and my wife feels our families are missing out, so she thinks we should visit Ohio once every couple of months. I argue that three times a year is plenty.”

“Six trips to Ohio a year with a 20-month-old is insane unless you live in Ohio. This is not just snobbery because I am from Massachusetts. While you are ready to leave your family in the dust, and thus are a perfect candidate to live in my misanthropic home state, your wife clearly wants to go back where people are nice. It may be difficult for her to say this outright (she is from Ohio). So, I order you to have a frank chat about where you see raising your family, and then move home, as that is what is going to happen anyway.”

You can imagine that this issue would be dear to the heart of this long distance grandma.  It has been a topic of discussion among many other long distance grandmas, many of whom would be thrilled with three times per year. But, first, who is the “Judge” John Hodgman?  Apparently, his comedy schtick is to solve other people’s problems in a joking way.  He named himself the judge.  His website is “maximum fun” and you can watch his television programs.  You can even write in on his website and ask him to address your problems.

So, a serious long distance grandma take on his comedic answer is to take the question seriously.  Yes, everyone wishes the entire multi generational family could live in the same neighborhood of old, or even the same town or state.  The reality of our world is that our children and grandchildren will live where the greatest economic opportunities lie for them.  We Boomer grandparents also will choose to live where we want and that is the subject of other columns by other advice “professionals.”  See this column by Amy Dickinson about Boomers dilemna of which child to live near in “Where you live in retirement is up to you”.

Many Boomers choose to select where to live in retirement based on rankings and their criteria.  See this link.

Second, how many times is enough for the grandchild to share holidays, traditions, rituals, and family culture is what this Grandma sees the question asking.  The couple has not lived near the family for six years, but a child changes everything.  Family holidays and tradition take on new meaning.  A grandchild having a relationship with grandparents takes on new meaning.  And all of this takes time. . . .and, in this day and age, travel.  Who should do the traveling?

Grandparents can help out and take the burden off the parents of the children.  It is easier to travel to their location in between their trips to visit the grandparents’ home.  Yes, the younger the child, the more often the trips and personal contacts.   Between three annual trips by grandparents and three annual trips by grandchildren and their parents, and yes, you can get to every few months to see the grandchildren in person.  Of course, grandparents should be ready and willing to help out when asked by parents of grandchildren who need grandparent support and babysitting.

In reality, three times a year is about right for the grandchildren to come to the grandparents’ home.  And, I have been very, very lucky that it has been so for the preschool years.  When grandchildren begin school, it becomes more difficult to even arrange three visits.

And, yes, this Grandma hates to admit it.

So, concentrate on the traditions and rituals, and pick one holiday that will be the annual event at grandparents’ house.  Remember that children remember rituals and traditions rather than visits, and create those traditions and rituals to keep grandma in their heart.*






*See previous posts


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