Maybe you are a military mom or dad away on an overseas deployment. Or you could be working out of state, driving an 18-wheeler across the country, or even incarcerated or in a long-term rehab program. Regardless of the circumstances, you may be struggling to parent your children from a distance.
It’s important that you do all that you can to facilitate that important parent-child connection. Otherwise, you could wake up one morning and find yourself estranged from your kids, and those breaches can be challenging to repair. Below are some suggestions for moms and dads to stay connected to their kids when life circumstances create distance.
Use technology to stay connected
The media often focuses on the role that technology plays in isolating people from human interactions. But it can also be used very positively to forge connections over long distances.
Depending on the ages of your kids, you can choose a mutually convenient time each day to go online using FaceTime, Skype or Messenger to review your child’s homework, read them a bedtime story or just ask about their day.
Send frequent care packages
These don’t have to be expensive gifts. Send them small shells and colorful stones from your overseas missions, pressed flowers from a stroll through a park, their favorite candy, comic books or an age-appropriate book. Tuck a photo of you going about your day in between the pages as an extra surprise.
Play online games together
Most kids like to play video games, whether it’s Minecraft, Legend of Zelda or Words with Friends. Find out which one is their passion, and arrange to play together online. The good thing about this is that you can both play at your own convenience regardless of time zones, and when you log on, you can monitor each other’s progress, receive gifts from their avatars, etc.
Plan special treats for events you must miss
If your child has a big game, recital or exam coming up, treat them to something special to let them know you are with them in spirit. Arrange a post-game pizza party, delivery of a bouquet of roses after the performance, or send a special “study kit” with all your child’s favorite snacks along with a note of encouragement tucked in.
Do all you can to maintain your parent-child ties
Remember, your child is young for only a short time. Now is the time to forge your connections and make memories with them. Even if they are at a distance, your kids will realize that you tried your best to remain fully present in their lives.
If there are obstacles to your remaining a vital presence in the kids’ lives, e.g., parental alienation from a former spouse, you may need to discuss modifying your custody agreement with your Butler County family law attorney.