The decision to be a long-distance parent can be extremely challenging not just on the part of the parent leaving, but on the kids as well.
The lack of physical presence leaves such a huge gap between a parent and a child that it would often lead to destructive behaviour not only on the side of the child, but on the parent as well.
For children of parents who work abroad, for example, it’s not surprising to hear about rebellious kids who seem to be seeking for attention. Of course, you also hear about stories of parents trying to replace their physical presence with material gifts, something that could have negative effects as well.
So what else can you do to make your child feel loved and cared for despite the distance? What can you give them that goes beyond the usual sending of new gadgets, expensive toys, huge allowance money, and other similar gifts?
Here are a few unique ideas.
Send them a gift when they have a special event
Is your child performing at a school event? Do they have a recital that you’ll be missing out on?
Send them something before the event so that they would somehow feel that you’re still supporting them despite your absence. It could be a bouquet of flowers before their piano recital. Or pizza for the entire team after their basketball game, regardless if they win or lose.
This is a great way for you to make your presence felt during the important events in your child’s life. Notice also that the emphasis is not on the fact that they won or did well. The emphasis here is on the fact that they are out there applying themselves and developing their talents and skills instead of just staying at home doing nothing.
Send them postcards from places you visit
With the wonders of technology available today, people sometimes fail to add that personal touch to communication. They spend so much time editing and cropping pictures through the use of apps and worry too much about how the pictures look like instead of what message they’re trying to send.
How about instead of filling your Facebook timeline or your Instagram profile with these breathtaking photos, you send them as personalized postcards to your kids instead? Take snapshots of the places you visit, have these printed out, write a personal message at the back and send them to your kids. Yes, through snail mail.
The kids may tell you it’s corny or cheesy, but trust me. They’ll probably have one of those postcards hidden in their wallet, under their mattress, or under their pillow, serving as a physical reminder that you think about them all the time no matter where you are.
Have a star named after your child
Who wouldn’t dream of having a heavenly body named after them?
Especially if your child is still young, this would definitely give them the satisfaction that their mom or dad gave them a star for their birthday – A REAL STAR!
There are a lot of businesses online that would send you a certificate that shows the exact position of the star you’re buying and the name that you’re giving it. This would definitely give your kids a thrill!
Of course, these certificates are not exactly legitimate in terms of the International Astronomical Union, who would still know each start using their Arabic names and their catalogue numbers.
The awe on your kids’ faces would be priceless though, and the thought that their parents got them a star would definitely be something that they’ll cherish forever – acknowledged by legitimate astronomers or not.
Have virtual tours of the city you’re in
You don’t really have to bring your kids with you for now, especially if you’re not well-established yet. While you’re still saving up for plane tickets so that they could visit, take them on walking tours around the city so that they could have a feel of the place.
You can talk on Facetime, Skype, or any other video calling app you usually use. Walk around the different points of interest and show them the sights. You can pose together from other ends of the phone and take screenshots.
Sure, it’s not the real thing, but the fact that you’re doing it together makes it even more exciting to plan the real visit that they would hopefully be able to do soon.
Eat meals together
Again, the wonders of technology can allow you to spend some time with your kids, even on a daily basis. Especially if you’re in an area where the time zone is the same as the Philippines, you can actually have family dinners together as if you were still back home.
Have your kids place the laptop, tablet, or phone on the end of the table where you’re supposed to be sitting. Set up a video call and eat dinner from your apartment at the exact same time that they’re eating. This is a great way to enjoy the simple, everyday things that you used to do together as a family.
Five unique ideas, five new ways for you to strengthen your connection with your kids. Sure, these would never be able to replace your actual physical presence. But somehow, it could make your kids feel loved, cared for, and appreciated until you can finally reunite with them again.