No one can take the place of a mother, and when you are forced to work away from home, the dynamics of parenting can become challenging – but not impossible.
Today’s lifestyle often means that a parent – especially a mom – is required to work away from home to either keep a job or earn a decent salary to afford her family a better way of life. Long distance parenting is challenging and stretches parenting skills to a whole new level – with the away parent working harder than ever to keep their relationship with their young children alive and well. But, it is possible to have a healthy, rewarding and meaningful relationship with a child even if you are far away.
Here’s a look at some of the challenges and how best to handle them.
The one downfall of long distance parenting is that you won’t be there to give them a hug when they need it, so make sure that when you talk to your child you stay upbeat, enthusiastic and positive – listen to what they have to say and show an interest in all the little details in their lives. This will help them feel important, cared for and loved.
Tip: Always end conversations with your own personal “sign-out” message like, “I love you. Miss you lots.”
Separation hurts and not knowing when they will see you again can cause stress, which could have a negative effect on their schoolwork. And for a young child, the time between one visit and the next can feel much longer than it actually is.
Tip: Plan a schedule of your visits in advance so that everyone knows what to expect.
Technology is your friend
Technology will make your long distance relationship richer and more rewarding. A quick SMS can mean a lot to a child just before an important event. whether its a sports event, dental appointment, a friend’s birthday party or a big test at school it’s up to you to keep a diary of activities taking place in your childs life. A brief chat is fine every now and again, but don’t underestimate the power of seeing one another, talking, watching their expressions and seeing them laugh.
Tip: Get into the habit of sending a “Hello” and “Good night” SMS at the start and end of each day.
Long distant parenting can make you feel as if you are losing control of your everyday duties as a mother. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Do not stop disciplining your child because you feel guilty, you want things to be “nice and comfortable”, or because you are scared your child will rebel and reject you. Now, more than ever, your child needs to understand that distance doesn’t change the “rules” at home
Tip: Don’t feel guilty about reprimanding your child. You are working away from home to benefit the family – it’s part of life.
Along the same lines as discipline, your child needs to understand that a caregiver, whether it be an aunt or gogo, takes care of them on your behalf, so they must respect them as if it were you.
Tip: Have regular chats with the caregiver to make sure there are no problems.
Besides family time, children cherish time alone with a parent they haven’t seen in a while, so plan some one-on-one time to do things together – from helping with school projects, going to a movie, trying out a new recipe for supper, or just watching TV together.
Tip: Time together can be limited, so plan on a family outing to the beach for example, where everyone can get involved.