Maintaining a relationship with your children when you live away from their home is not easy. It takes a great deal of concerted effort that doesn’t always yield immediate tangible results. But, if you do make this effort, there is no reason that you can’t only maintain your relationship with your kids, but actually make it stronger than it ever was before.
As adults, we are all familiar with the phrase: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Unfortunately, for children (and this is true for children of all ages), the phrase that is more applicable is: “Out of sight, out of mind”. So just how do we maintain a relationship with our kids when we don’t see them as regularly as we would like to? The short answer is: remain a gentle, but constant presence in their minds.
When we are living in the same home, we kind of feel that this happens simply because they see us every day. In reality, this isn’t true at all. Just sharing a property doesn’t necessarily make us present in our children’s minds in the way we think it does – or would like it to. We need to have a role; we need to play an active part in their lives in some way. It isn’t enough to simply pass by them in the hall every once in a while and say “how you doing there sport?” as we ruffle their hair on the way by.
As parents living away from the home, we need to work that little bit harder and think outside of the box a bit. Does your 13-year-old son love his PlayStation 4? Then learn to play some of the games he does, and get logged in! There is no reason that you can’t become an online buddie with whom he teams up every night to kill a bunch of baddies. Does your 15-year-old daughter collect cute images of furry cats from Facebook? Then get yourself an account and collect away too.
My point is, that just because you are out of sight, does not have to mean that you are out of mind as well. Maintaining a relationship with your children when you live away from their home doesn’t just have to be about taking them out for the day. A gentle, regular contact that keeps you alive in their minds will be far more beneficial in the long run.