Helen Ellis M.A.
Author, researcher, anthropologist, distance grandparent & founder of DistanceFamilies.com
An encourager of empathy within intergenerational distance families
My husband and I are New Zealanders and this country has always been home. We have four children between us and we've been distance parents for 30+ years, and distance grandparents for 20+ years. One or other of our children has lived for either months, years or permanently in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Sweden, U.S.A., Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, South Sudan and Pakistan. These days three of our adult children and 5.5 of our 6.5 grandchildren (6-24 yrs) reside in the U.S.A., Scotland and England (we have another one on the way!)
After a career in travel, event management and business ownership my life took a new direction via university studies. I completed a Master of Arts in Social Anthropology. My research asked the following question of long haul, New Zealand distance grandparents: "How is distance grandparenting for you?"
What I learned from this experience is that distance grandparents and their families, have stories that need to be shared. Stories are intimate and personal: the way we make sense of our lives, actions, history and worlds.
My journey has delivered me a unique understanding of distance familying and I feel passionately that by sharing our inter-generational experiences of how it is for all generations we will each grow in our understanding and most importantly, empathy, of each other's worlds.
I am currently co-chair of Families in Global Transition ANZA - a support and research organisation for all things global mobility.