Living far from your extended family can be tough, especially when raising kids. The majority of parents want their children to have close relationships with their extended family, but because of work or other circumstances, it isn’t possible to actually live close. Living far away doesn’t mean your kids can’t have amazing relationships with everyone in your family. Here are 4 ideas to guide you in fostering relationships with family far away.
1. Share the Small Stuff
It is easy to remember to call Grandma or Uncle after the first day of school or when your little one takes his first steps. However, keeping family far away up to date with the little things will make a big difference in their relationship with your child. Grandma wants to hear the silly joke your second grader told you after school and Uncle would love to know that his nephew dressed himself in camo and plaid today. When you think about it, these stories are the things that make up your child’s childhood and there’s nothing small about that.
2. Use Photos Creatively
If your child doesn’t get to see his extended family very often, photos can be a great reminder to talk about those far away family members. Obviously, you can make sure you have prints framed in different places of your home, but try to get creative with family photos and make it fun.
- If you are looking for an easy way to display photos that you can change out frequently, here is a great DIY photo display.
- Another idea is to put some photos on a placemat and laminate it. You and your little one can talk about your family during mealtime with the placemat to guide your conversation.
- Make a family photo puzzle. Cut photos to fit inside the holes on a toddler’s wooden puzzle or make a big kid puzzle on a photo website like Shutterfly.
Mixing it up with how you present photos to your child will ensure that those photos don’t just become a decoration collecting dust and your child will feel close to all his family because they won’t feel so far away.
3. Say No to Comparison
If the rest of your extended family all live close together, it is easy to want to compare your child’s relationship with the relationships of the family members who live close to each other. Don’t do that! Comparison to others is a waste of your time and energy; time and energy better spent connecting with your family. Close proximity does not guarantee a healthy relationship anymore than living far apart would equal a poor relationship. A relationship is built on love and requires effort whether you live 1,000 miles away or next door to one another.
4. Go Old School
Technology is amazing and of course we should all take advantage of things like our smartphones and Facebook to stay connected with family far away. These things make sharing our lives so easy. But sometimes when something is so easy, it makes it feel not so special. To really let your family know how loved and missed they are, go old school and use snail mail! Kids adore getting things in the mail but they love sending things too.
Something about the mail process is fascinating, so use that to connect with loved ones miles away.
- Have your child make cards for family. You can get blank cards and envelopes at any craft store for cheap. Get out the markers, stamps and stickers and get to work.
- If your child is old enough, this activity is great to practice handwriting as well.
- For birthdays and holidays, skip the mall and create homemade gifts with your child.
Your family members will feel so loved by opening their mailboxes to find things just for them, and your child will feel invested in the relationships with those family members by creating something on his own to give as a special gift. The whole process will make everyone feel closer!
With a little creativity and a little effort, your child can give and receive a lot of love from family near and far. When you are able to get together with your family, you may be surprised by how close and comfortable your child feels with the family members he only sees a few times a year. By focusing on long distance family relationships with your child, the time that you do spend together will be that much more valuable.
Photo credits: Kristen Douglas