Bridging the Distance Between Family Members

Reviewed Jan 28, 2017

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Summary

  • Build a supportive network.
  • Make use of technology to keep in touch.
  • Create a family newsletter.
  • Plan a family reunion.

In today’s fast-paced, mobile society, it is not always easy to nurture family ties. But a sense of family is one of the most important gifts that you can give a child.

Researchers point out that strong extended families provide a vital support system for relatives, decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation, and help provide a sense of community for children.

Build a supportive network

“Young families weren’t meant to be islands unto themselves,” writes Dr. Marianne Neifert in her book Dr. Mom’s Parenting Guide. “They were meant to be strengthened and sustained by a network of supportive relatives.”

This support is perhaps more crucial today than ever, when demanding work schedules and geographic separations make so many people feel disconnected. We often think of loneliness in relation to adults or elders, but research by Javad H. Kashani, PhD, and colleagues found that loneliness was reported by children as young as 8 years old. They concluded that increasing contact with extended family might be one solution to this problem, emphasizing the enduring nature of family relationships vs. the transitory nature of friendships.

Get “wired”

Technology has made it easier for long-distance relatives to keep in touch. Family members can Facetime or use other video chat options to talk and see one another in real time. Communicating via email and texting or emailing photos are other options for family members who life far from one another. 

Create a family newsletter

While computers can facilitate long-distance communications, there are plenty of low-tech ways that family members can keep in touch across the miles. Family newsletters are a popular way to let others in your clan know what you have been up to. Including a “from the mouths of babes” section with quotes from your children will give relatives unique insight into your family and help to make the newsletter more personal.

Send kids’ artwork

While parents love to see the many art projects their children bring home from school, these masterpieces can only hang on the refrigerator for so long. Sending artwork to far-away family members is a wonderful way to help them chart your children’s development.

Compose an autobiography

Photos are another great way to stay in touch. To help family members get a sense of your family’s daily life, let your children carry around a disposable or digital camera for a week. Have them take pictures at baseball practice, ballet class, or just hanging around with friends. Help them to compose an autobiography on “A Week in the Life of Me.” Include a typical week’s schedule, pictures, names of friends, teachers, and coaches and stories about their favorite classes or sports. This will help your children appreciate that there are many relatives who care for them, and that they are an important part of a larger family. And relatives will have the opportunity to learn about your children’s likes, dislikes, and hobbies.

Create enduring bonds

Creating bonds with long-distant relatives can pose a challenge for today’s parents, but it is certainly a challenge worth rising to. Share vacation time: plan a family reunion, visit the relatives, or bring them along on your vacation. In the words of Marguerite Kelly, author of The Mother’s Almanac, “The closeness in a family depends on the bridges you build, not the miles between you.”

Source: Dr. Mom's Parenting Guide by Marianne Neifert. Dutton Books, 1991; The Mother's Almanac II by Marguerite Kelly. Doubleday, 1989; Raising Happy Children by JH Kashani, DV Mehregany, WD Allan and Kate Kelly. Three Rivers Press, 1998; The Whole Parenting Guide by Phil Catalfo, Stephanie Hamilton and Alan Reder. Broadway Books, 1999; How Computers Connect Families by Bronwyn Fryer. Child Magazine, December, 1998.

Summary

  • Build a supportive network.
  • Make use of technology to keep in touch.
  • Create a family newsletter.
  • Plan a family reunion.

In today’s fast-paced, mobile society, it is not always easy to nurture family ties. But a sense of family is one of the most important gifts that you can give a child.

Researchers point out that strong extended families provide a vital support system for relatives, decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation, and help provide a sense of community for children.

Build a supportive network

“Young families weren’t meant to be islands unto themselves,” writes Dr. Marianne Neifert in her book Dr. Mom’s Parenting Guide. “They were meant to be strengthened and sustained by a network of supportive relatives.”

This support is perhaps more crucial today than ever, when demanding work schedules and geographic separations make so many people feel disconnected. We often think of loneliness in relation to adults or elders, but research by Javad H. Kashani, PhD, and colleagues found that loneliness was reported by children as young as 8 years old. They concluded that increasing contact with extended family might be one solution to this problem, emphasizing the enduring nature of family relationships vs. the transitory nature of friendships.

Get “wired”

Technology has made it easier for long-distance relatives to keep in touch. Family members can Facetime or use other video chat options to talk and see one another in real time. Communicating via email and texting or emailing photos are other options for family members who life far from one another. 

Create a family newsletter

While computers can facilitate long-distance communications, there are plenty of low-tech ways that family members can keep in touch across the miles. Family newsletters are a popular way to let others in your clan know what you have been up to. Including a “from the mouths of babes” section with quotes from your children will give relatives unique insight into your family and help to make the newsletter more personal.

Send kids’ artwork

While parents love to see the many art projects their children bring home from school, these masterpieces can only hang on the refrigerator for so long. Sending artwork to far-away family members is a wonderful way to help them chart your children’s development.

Compose an autobiography

Photos are another great way to stay in touch. To help family members get a sense of your family’s daily life, let your children carry around a disposable or digital camera for a week. Have them take pictures at baseball practice, ballet class, or just hanging around with friends. Help them to compose an autobiography on “A Week in the Life of Me.” Include a typical week’s schedule, pictures, names of friends, teachers, and coaches and stories about their favorite classes or sports. This will help your children appreciate that there are many relatives who care for them, and that they are an important part of a larger family. And relatives will have the opportunity to learn about your children’s likes, dislikes, and hobbies.

Create enduring bonds

Creating bonds with long-distant relatives can pose a challenge for today’s parents, but it is certainly a challenge worth rising to. Share vacation time: plan a family reunion, visit the relatives, or bring them along on your vacation. In the words of Marguerite Kelly, author of The Mother’s Almanac, “The closeness in a family depends on the bridges you build, not the miles between you.”

Source: Dr. Mom's Parenting Guide by Marianne Neifert. Dutton Books, 1991; The Mother's Almanac II by Marguerite Kelly. Doubleday, 1989; Raising Happy Children by JH Kashani, DV Mehregany, WD Allan and Kate Kelly. Three Rivers Press, 1998; The Whole Parenting Guide by Phil Catalfo, Stephanie Hamilton and Alan Reder. Broadway Books, 1999; How Computers Connect Families by Bronwyn Fryer. Child Magazine, December, 1998.

Summary

  • Build a supportive network.
  • Make use of technology to keep in touch.
  • Create a family newsletter.
  • Plan a family reunion.

In today’s fast-paced, mobile society, it is not always easy to nurture family ties. But a sense of family is one of the most important gifts that you can give a child.

Researchers point out that strong extended families provide a vital support system for relatives, decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation, and help provide a sense of community for children.

Build a supportive network

“Young families weren’t meant to be islands unto themselves,” writes Dr. Marianne Neifert in her book Dr. Mom’s Parenting Guide. “They were meant to be strengthened and sustained by a network of supportive relatives.”

This support is perhaps more crucial today than ever, when demanding work schedules and geographic separations make so many people feel disconnected. We often think of loneliness in relation to adults or elders, but research by Javad H. Kashani, PhD, and colleagues found that loneliness was reported by children as young as 8 years old. They concluded that increasing contact with extended family might be one solution to this problem, emphasizing the enduring nature of family relationships vs. the transitory nature of friendships.

Get “wired”

Technology has made it easier for long-distance relatives to keep in touch. Family members can Facetime or use other video chat options to talk and see one another in real time. Communicating via email and texting or emailing photos are other options for family members who life far from one another. 

Create a family newsletter

While computers can facilitate long-distance communications, there are plenty of low-tech ways that family members can keep in touch across the miles. Family newsletters are a popular way to let others in your clan know what you have been up to. Including a “from the mouths of babes” section with quotes from your children will give relatives unique insight into your family and help to make the newsletter more personal.

Send kids’ artwork

While parents love to see the many art projects their children bring home from school, these masterpieces can only hang on the refrigerator for so long. Sending artwork to far-away family members is a wonderful way to help them chart your children’s development.

Compose an autobiography

Photos are another great way to stay in touch. To help family members get a sense of your family’s daily life, let your children carry around a disposable or digital camera for a week. Have them take pictures at baseball practice, ballet class, or just hanging around with friends. Help them to compose an autobiography on “A Week in the Life of Me.” Include a typical week’s schedule, pictures, names of friends, teachers, and coaches and stories about their favorite classes or sports. This will help your children appreciate that there are many relatives who care for them, and that they are an important part of a larger family. And relatives will have the opportunity to learn about your children’s likes, dislikes, and hobbies.

Create enduring bonds

Creating bonds with long-distant relatives can pose a challenge for today’s parents, but it is certainly a challenge worth rising to. Share vacation time: plan a family reunion, visit the relatives, or bring them along on your vacation. In the words of Marguerite Kelly, author of The Mother’s Almanac, “The closeness in a family depends on the bridges you build, not the miles between you.”

Source: Dr. Mom's Parenting Guide by Marianne Neifert. Dutton Books, 1991; The Mother's Almanac II by Marguerite Kelly. Doubleday, 1989; Raising Happy Children by JH Kashani, DV Mehregany, WD Allan and Kate Kelly. Three Rivers Press, 1998; The Whole Parenting Guide by Phil Catalfo, Stephanie Hamilton and Alan Reder. Broadway Books, 1999; How Computers Connect Families by Bronwyn Fryer. Child Magazine, December, 1998.

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