How to Parent From a Distance Without Being a ‘Disneyland’ Dad or Mom

There are a lot of different reasons that parents can end up living miles away from their children — and divorce is chief among them. If you’re stuck living at a distance from your children, it’s important to do everything you can to retain (and build) your familial bonds.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you should be a “Disneyland” parent who sweeps into town during your visitation time, showers the kids with gifts and toys and makes every day a party. Real connections are generally developed slowly, over time, through ordinary daily activities.

How can you make that work long-distance? Here are some tips:

  • Make use of technology. You can use Skype or Zoom to read your kids a bedtime story or help them with their homework. Small acts like that, especially when they’re part of a routine, help children feel important to their parents and build trust.
  • Spend time talking about your life. Naturally, you have to keep your conversation age-appropriate, but your phone calls with the kids should include plenty of details about your life. Tell the kids about what you saw on your latest trip to the park, what you had for dinner, what movies you have seen and so on. That helps the kids feel like they know what’s going on in your world — and gives them an opening to talk about events in their lives.
  • Share their interests. Find out what your kids are into these days and make an effort to keep up. If they’re playing Pokemon Go, for example, get an account of your own so that you can engage in friendly competitions and battles with the kids.

Long-distance parenting can be difficult, but the rewards are worth all of the efforts you can give. However, if long-distance parenting isn’t working out, it may be time to discuss a modification of the custody schedule so that you can better preserve your parent-child relationship.