Staying Close to Kids, Even When They're Miles Away

Connecting with kids from afar isn’t always easy. For one thing, young people often change more quickly than adults, making it a challenge to keep up with what’s going on in their lives. It’s tempting to try to stay close by giving gifts or spending money on expensive outings and events. That can get costly and can turn the focus of your connection onto material things, rather than on your relationship. Here are some alternatives that focus on time, interests, and building young people’s strengths.
Tips for . . .

  • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • Lunch Box Love: Mail a special lunch treat for daycare or home. Ideas might include a picture of you eating lunch, stickers (perhaps scented images of food), or granola bars with love notes taped around them.
    • Recorded Reading: Record yourself reading a picture book. Add a sound, such as the tapping of a fork against a glass, when it is time to turn the page. Mail the tape and the book to your children to listen to whenever they want to hear your voice.
    • parents with children 6 to 9
    • Creative Cards: Kids love getting mail, especially something unique. Consider making a photo card, fabric card, recycled card, or other one-of-a-kind greeting.
    • Calendar Countdown: Find a special way to track the days leading up to an important event and mail it to your child. One idea is to string together one envelope for each day and put something inside — messages about how much fun you’ll have when you’re together, school supplies to count the days until school starts, or birthday decorations leading up to your child’s birthday.
    • parents with children 10 to 15
    • A Fond Farewell: Saying goodbye can be sad, but planning a special send-off can make the departure fun and meaningful. Try something new each time, or start a ritual for every parting.
    • Blog Together: Use the resources of the Internet — A Weblog (blog), Web page, email, or instant messaging — to stay in touch.
    • parents with children 16 to 18
    • Same Time, Same Channel: Pick a television show you both want to watch on a regular basis. Each time it’s on, have a “debrief” conversation afterwards by phone or email.
  • Geocaching: In geocaching people use a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to locate a hidden cache — usually a container filled with semi-valuable items. When they reach the cache, they take something out and leave something else behind. You and your child can do this separately and report back, or make a plan to go geocaching together when you are next reunited. For more information visit

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