Parenting From a Distance

Parents sometimes have to be away from their kids. Divorce, buy military duty, diagnosis business trips and other trips can all keep parents away for various periods of time. Sometimes parents have to be away from the home in order to tend to family members in hospital or other settings. Whatever the reasons for separation may be, kids usually feel some sense of loneliness and loss – sometimes even abandonment. Fortunately, parents can help minimize the distress that their kids feel upon separation by utilizing modern technology to retain a degree of connection.

Video Calls
In the last few years, we have experienced massive advancement in technology. Moreover, recent advances have also permitted less expensive means of communication. A webcam, headset and internet connection is all that is needed for person-to-person live video calls. A weekly (or for short absences, daily) video date can help maintain the all-important feeling of connection.

Mobile Phones
Mobile phones can be used as small computers on the go. Take pictures as you are out and about and send them immediately, in real time. Use texting and messaging options to have conversation in the “now.” Send the photos and also have face-to-face telephone chats. Over the next few years more and more options for mobile phone communication will be available. Take advantage of them!

Online Gaming and Networking
If your youngster is into online or mobile gaming, then perhaps you can play together. This kind of activity can be excellent for bonding.

Across-the-Miles Celebrations
A video can easily update you on your child’s latest school activity – recitals, plays or sports events. Hopefully someone is available to record important events for your return viewing. In addition,you might be able to use live video calls to bring yourself and your child together at important moments in time.

Responsiveness
Try to respond promptly to whatever communications come to you from your child. Reply to text with text, calls with calls, emails with emails (and letters with letters, if your child is into snail mail!). Do what you can to maintain the momentum.

But above all, more important than the quantity of time you spend communicating is the quality of communication you send. It’s vital that your child understand that lack of proximity can’t harm the parent-child relationship. In general, try to avoid offering criticisms and complaints long distance; instead, focus on the positive while you’re away and wait till you get home to provide needed education and guidance (within the context of the 80-20 Rule as described in Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice by Sarah Chana Radcliffe).

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