Virtual parenting can bridge the distance gap.
Image via Skype.com
For the parent who has to travel, especially those who are away for long stretches at a time, being "present" in his or her child's life can be a challenge. Both parents must be creative, intentional and diligent about creating quality time with the child.
My brother-in-law traveled a lot when his children were growing up. I'll never forget the story of him taping bedtime stories for their oldest child and my sister playing those recordings for my niece each night during the bedtime routine. Regardless of his schedule, he took an active role in his children's daily lives. That impressed me greatly twenty years ago.
When I traveled to South America a couple of years ago, my family was anxious about me being so far away and in a foreign country. Twenty years ago, they would have had a phone call or two and cute little notes left all over the house to comfort them in my absence. But we had Skype and an Internet connection. Having the opportunity to connect via video chatting eased fears. It also kept me up-to-date on what was happening at home and kept them abreast of my adventures. And it was wonderful to have the opportunity to weigh-in on a parenting issue and have my son see my face as I provided input.
Military families are adept at overcoming the distance barrier out of necessity. In a recent Today article, seven tips for family Skyping are provided as a means to help families keep close connections. But it is not just for families with deployed parents. All families can use the information to bridge gaps between out-of-state extended family and the son or daughter who is transitioning into college.
All parenting, and family relationship building for that matter, does not have to happen face-to-face. Two-dimensional parenting via technology can give all parties a sense of togetherness that letters, texts, emails and even phone calls cannot quite achieve. When you can't be there, seeing each other's faces, and facial expressions, can be of great comfort.
That's one of the great advantages of living with today's technology. With an Internet connection, we can stay close no matter how many miles physically separate us.
Image via Skype.com.