Coping with Long-distance Parenting

Reviewed Jul 24, 2017

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Summary

There are many things you can do to make the distance seem shorter, like keeping in regular touch and planning your visits ahead.

There are many issues that come with parenting from a distance. And there are many reasons you might find yourself here: divorce, break up from a partner, military deployment, job relocation, and more. It’s hard on the parents and hard on the kids. But there are some ways to make it easier.

Phone

It sounds simple, but phone calls are still the best way to keep in touch. It used to be that families would plan for weekly phone calls from other members. This is still a great idea. Plan the day(s) of the week and time(s) that work best and keep the phone date(s). Depending on the age of your child, you might want to read them a bedtime story, help them with science homework, or talk about the latest episode from a series you both watch. Hearing each other’s voice keeps the bond familiar.

Electronic media

You can also plan video calls in addition to your phone calls. Most smartphones and computers are able to run live video applications like Skype and FaceTime. This will give you a chance to not only see your child, but also her surroundings and what she wants to share: her puppy, new shoes, a drawing she just did. You can do the same. It gives a sense of comfort and normalcy to see what your daily lives are like.

Take digital pictures or videos to share. They can be of familiar people or places, or things that remind you of them, like the sunset or your friend’s child who makes a funny face while eating a lemon slice. You can text or email the pictures and videos, or post them to their social media accounts if they have profiles and the images aren’t private. You can also have copies of digital prints made and put them into a shared photo album.

Old school media

Before smartphones, email, and social networking, we relied on letters and postcards to keep in touch. It is still a thrill to get something in the mail. In fact, even more so since it’s not done often. You don’t need to be away on vacation to send a “wish you were here” type message. Keep a letter log about your week, or write a short postcard to tell about a moment that reminded you of your child. Then, stick a stamp on it and mail it.

Small gifts

Many long-distance parents feel guilty for being away and want to make it up to their kids. Resist the urge to send big gifts or take costly breaks when you’re together. Know that most kids really just want you and your time. Just as a letter or postcard is exciting, a little gift or package to show you care will go a long way. You could send wrapped sweets, a small toy, CD, or book. If it’s not a birthday or special event but “just because,” that’s even better.

Surprise visits

If it’s possible financially and OK with the other parent who is most often caring for your child, plan a surprise visit or two. This will work best if you are in regular touch with your kids and they are at an age where this would be not only appropriate but down-right exciting. This should be planned well ahead to make sure it’s a success.

Plan ahead

Speaking of planning ahead, make sure you think about your coming visits and do the most with your time together. Be careful not to over plan. Have a well thought out itinerary that involves daily needs like eating and napping (if needed for the child), as well as fun activities, and down time to recharge. Leave time to add in unplanned events as well. You never know what might come up as you all are enjoying your time together.

With planned attentiveness and constant communication, life as a long-distance parent can be a little easier. Keep up a good working relationship with the other parent whether you are together as a couple or not. Keep in mind that they bear the brunt of the daily schedule and take on most of the duties. They also likely know your child best and can help you see what their daily life is like. Don’t try to outdo the other parent or talk badly about them with your child. You want to make your relationship with your child as close as you can.

By Andrea Rizzo, M.F.A.
Source: Staying Connected with the Kids from Long Distance: http://fatherhood.about.com/od/relationshipswithkids/a/long_distance.htm; Tips for Long-distance Parenting: www.huffingtonpost.com/diana-mercer/tips-for-long-distance-pa_b_798533.html
Reviewed by Marissa Eggert, L.M.F.T., EAP Workplace Consult, Beacon Health Options

Summary

There are many things you can do to make the distance seem shorter, like keeping in regular touch and planning your visits ahead.

There are many issues that come with parenting from a distance. And there are many reasons you might find yourself here: divorce, break up from a partner, military deployment, job relocation, and more. It’s hard on the parents and hard on the kids. But there are some ways to make it easier.

Phone

It sounds simple, but phone calls are still the best way to keep in touch. It used to be that families would plan for weekly phone calls from other members. This is still a great idea. Plan the day(s) of the week and time(s) that work best and keep the phone date(s). Depending on the age of your child, you might want to read them a bedtime story, help them with science homework, or talk about the latest episode from a series you both watch. Hearing each other’s voice keeps the bond familiar.

Electronic media

You can also plan video calls in addition to your phone calls. Most smartphones and computers are able to run live video applications like Skype and FaceTime. This will give you a chance to not only see your child, but also her surroundings and what she wants to share: her puppy, new shoes, a drawing she just did. You can do the same. It gives a sense of comfort and normalcy to see what your daily lives are like.

Take digital pictures or videos to share. They can be of familiar people or places, or things that remind you of them, like the sunset or your friend’s child who makes a funny face while eating a lemon slice. You can text or email the pictures and videos, or post them to their social media accounts if they have profiles and the images aren’t private. You can also have copies of digital prints made and put them into a shared photo album.

Old school media

Before smartphones, email, and social networking, we relied on letters and postcards to keep in touch. It is still a thrill to get something in the mail. In fact, even more so since it’s not done often. You don’t need to be away on vacation to send a “wish you were here” type message. Keep a letter log about your week, or write a short postcard to tell about a moment that reminded you of your child. Then, stick a stamp on it and mail it.

Small gifts

Many long-distance parents feel guilty for being away and want to make it up to their kids. Resist the urge to send big gifts or take costly breaks when you’re together. Know that most kids really just want you and your time. Just as a letter or postcard is exciting, a little gift or package to show you care will go a long way. You could send wrapped sweets, a small toy, CD, or book. If it’s not a birthday or special event but “just because,” that’s even better.

Surprise visits

If it’s possible financially and OK with the other parent who is most often caring for your child, plan a surprise visit or two. This will work best if you are in regular touch with your kids and they are at an age where this would be not only appropriate but down-right exciting. This should be planned well ahead to make sure it’s a success.

Plan ahead

Speaking of planning ahead, make sure you think about your coming visits and do the most with your time together. Be careful not to over plan. Have a well thought out itinerary that involves daily needs like eating and napping (if needed for the child), as well as fun activities, and down time to recharge. Leave time to add in unplanned events as well. You never know what might come up as you all are enjoying your time together.

With planned attentiveness and constant communication, life as a long-distance parent can be a little easier. Keep up a good working relationship with the other parent whether you are together as a couple or not. Keep in mind that they bear the brunt of the daily schedule and take on most of the duties. They also likely know your child best and can help you see what their daily life is like. Don’t try to outdo the other parent or talk badly about them with your child. You want to make your relationship with your child as close as you can.

By Andrea Rizzo, M.F.A.
Source: Staying Connected with the Kids from Long Distance: http://fatherhood.about.com/od/relationshipswithkids/a/long_distance.htm; Tips for Long-distance Parenting: www.huffingtonpost.com/diana-mercer/tips-for-long-distance-pa_b_798533.html
Reviewed by Marissa Eggert, L.M.F.T., EAP Workplace Consult, Beacon Health Options

Summary

There are many things you can do to make the distance seem shorter, like keeping in regular touch and planning your visits ahead.

There are many issues that come with parenting from a distance. And there are many reasons you might find yourself here: divorce, break up from a partner, military deployment, job relocation, and more. It’s hard on the parents and hard on the kids. But there are some ways to make it easier.

Phone

It sounds simple, but phone calls are still the best way to keep in touch. It used to be that families would plan for weekly phone calls from other members. This is still a great idea. Plan the day(s) of the week and time(s) that work best and keep the phone date(s). Depending on the age of your child, you might want to read them a bedtime story, help them with science homework, or talk about the latest episode from a series you both watch. Hearing each other’s voice keeps the bond familiar.

Electronic media

You can also plan video calls in addition to your phone calls. Most smartphones and computers are able to run live video applications like Skype and FaceTime. This will give you a chance to not only see your child, but also her surroundings and what she wants to share: her puppy, new shoes, a drawing she just did. You can do the same. It gives a sense of comfort and normalcy to see what your daily lives are like.

Take digital pictures or videos to share. They can be of familiar people or places, or things that remind you of them, like the sunset or your friend’s child who makes a funny face while eating a lemon slice. You can text or email the pictures and videos, or post them to their social media accounts if they have profiles and the images aren’t private. You can also have copies of digital prints made and put them into a shared photo album.

Old school media

Before smartphones, email, and social networking, we relied on letters and postcards to keep in touch. It is still a thrill to get something in the mail. In fact, even more so since it’s not done often. You don’t need to be away on vacation to send a “wish you were here” type message. Keep a letter log about your week, or write a short postcard to tell about a moment that reminded you of your child. Then, stick a stamp on it and mail it.

Small gifts

Many long-distance parents feel guilty for being away and want to make it up to their kids. Resist the urge to send big gifts or take costly breaks when you’re together. Know that most kids really just want you and your time. Just as a letter or postcard is exciting, a little gift or package to show you care will go a long way. You could send wrapped sweets, a small toy, CD, or book. If it’s not a birthday or special event but “just because,” that’s even better.

Surprise visits

If it’s possible financially and OK with the other parent who is most often caring for your child, plan a surprise visit or two. This will work best if you are in regular touch with your kids and they are at an age where this would be not only appropriate but down-right exciting. This should be planned well ahead to make sure it’s a success.

Plan ahead

Speaking of planning ahead, make sure you think about your coming visits and do the most with your time together. Be careful not to over plan. Have a well thought out itinerary that involves daily needs like eating and napping (if needed for the child), as well as fun activities, and down time to recharge. Leave time to add in unplanned events as well. You never know what might come up as you all are enjoying your time together.

With planned attentiveness and constant communication, life as a long-distance parent can be a little easier. Keep up a good working relationship with the other parent whether you are together as a couple or not. Keep in mind that they bear the brunt of the daily schedule and take on most of the duties. They also likely know your child best and can help you see what their daily life is like. Don’t try to outdo the other parent or talk badly about them with your child. You want to make your relationship with your child as close as you can.

By Andrea Rizzo, M.F.A.
Source: Staying Connected with the Kids from Long Distance: http://fatherhood.about.com/od/relationshipswithkids/a/long_distance.htm; Tips for Long-distance Parenting: www.huffingtonpost.com/diana-mercer/tips-for-long-distance-pa_b_798533.html
Reviewed by Marissa Eggert, L.M.F.T., EAP Workplace Consult, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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