• OFW Parenting Tips: Keeping In Touch Across the Miles

    Mom, contributor and educator, An-Marie Villarin shares some advice to OFW parents and how they can make the most of their audio or video calls.
    by SmartParenting Staff .
  • A week away from the people you love can be difficult to bear.  It’s so much worse if the time period is in months or even years, and in another country to boot.  Staying in touch with all your kids and keeping tabs on the goings-on in their lives becomes a challenge, especially if you’re a parent to young children and teenagers.  Below are some OFW parenting tips on how to keep in touch across the miles.
     
    Options Provided by Technology
     
    Hard as it may be, even if you are miles away from your family, you can still be a wonderful and present parent (or spouse) by keeping communication lines open.  Thanks, in large part, to all the advancements in technology, keeping in touch has become a lot easier and makes people feel closer than they actually are.  You can send messages through email or send updates through Twitter and Facebook. Talking on the telephone, which is one of the best ways to communicate because it allows you to hear someone’s voice, has gotten even better through video-chats like Skype. You can pretend that you are just right next to each other while talking. 
     
    Making The Most of What You Have
     
    1. Schedule Your Calls. To make the most of your phone or video calls, schedule them at the same time each month, week, or day.  This way, your loved ones will always be home or at an internet café when you call. 
     
    2. Organize Your Calls. It also helps establish a routine and children, especially, will look forward to this time and come well prepared.  Before the call, you should already have organized what you are going to say or do (if a video call).  Since the time that you have together will be limited, it is important that you are primed for the conversation.
     
    3. Some topics to talk about are the following:
    School related activities – Ask your kids to communicate what’s going on in their lives. Ask them what they have been learning in school, what clubs they joined, what plays or other school productions they are involved with, and the like.  You can also do homework together.

    Books that you have read – You can take turns talking about the chapters you have each read so far.  You could plan to read the same book and have a discussion about it.  If your children are younger, you can also read stories to them and this can be special story time with Mommy or Daddy.

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    Extracurricular activities – maybe you joined a choir or club that you can share with your child.  Your children can also talk about art, dance, music, or cooking classes that they have joined or sports that they are engaged in.  Talking about interests can get children excited and this is a great way to stay in tune with them (especially with boys).

    Activities with friends – play dates, outings, etc.  This is another way that you can stay in the loop in your children’s lives.  If you can agree on a schedule, you can arrange to meet your children’s friends on your next video chat or phone call.

    Any problems that they may have or difficulties that they are experiencing – even if you would like all your conversations to be happy and positive, this will not always be the case.  Your children will be experiencing ups and downs that will have to be dealt with whether you like it or not.  You can provide much needed support, encouragement, and advice.  

    What to Watch Out For 

    Be careful, however, with how you react to anything that your children will share, because they may share things that will upset or shock you.  You do not want to end your conversation on a sour note.  Keep your emotions, facial expressions, and body language in check so that what you leave with your child is the feeling that you accept them and love them no matter what happens.  This way, they will not feel awkward or afraid to share even negative experiences with you.  They will also not feel guilty making you feel bad when you are so far away. The OFW parenting tips above are just some of the many things you can take on when it comes to parenting your children and keeping in touch across the miles. You can come up with more creative ideas on how to keep your connection strong and alive with your kids. Just remember that this is all part of building your relationship with them and making them feel secure in your love.



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