Navigating a long distance relationship is tough enough. Yet it is even more difficult when that relationship is with your child. If distance separates you and your child, read on to avoid the five mistakes you can’t afford to make . . . it just might save your relationship.
1. Don’t assume your child doesn’t want to talk to you. It is easy to listen to the Enemy and believe that our child wants nothing to do with us, when really the opposite is true. Your child misses you, longs for you when you are away.
Just because you are out of site, does not mean you are out of mind. Make sure you stay in touch. Let your child know you care about him.
we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ
– 2 Cor 10:5b, NIV
2. Don’t forget to call or miss scheduled calls. We all know work is stressful and life gets in the way. But nothing is more important than letting your child know they are a priority. Set a reminder on your phone. Schedule a date with your child in your calendar. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself.
Also, think beyond the traditional phone call. Try facetime or Skype. And don’t just sit there and talk. Share a meal together, help your daughter with her homework, or read your toddler his favorite book.
3. Don’t wait too long between visits. Yes, plane tickets cost a lot of money, yet they are worth the investment if it means seeing your child. We need to think outside the box here: can we use airline miles or hotel points? Do you have a business trip near your child’s area? If so, try to add on a few extra days to visit her. Including time whenever possible throughout the year.
4. Don’t tell yourself the little things don’t matter. Cards in the mail. Small care packages. E-cards. A few quick texts throughout the day. These things let your child know that even though distance separates you, she is never far from your thoughts.
Take it a step further and get creative. Send her a cookie cake the day she tries out for drill team. Have a pizza delivered to him the day of his big game. Small gestures make a huge impact.
“A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
– John 13:34, NIV
5. Don’t try to be the “fun parent.” It’s easy to want to swoop in and impress your child with fancy vacations, expensive shopping sprees, and trips to the toy store when you finally see them. Trying to dazzle your child, however, is not the best way to make up for lost time.
If you go to visit them in their own town, get involved in their every day life. Go watch their soccer practice, eat at their favorite hamburger joint, and rollerblade in their favorite park.
If they visit you, involve them in your world. Take them to the best pizza joint your city has to offer, go to the children’s museum, and spend some time just reconnecting over a relaxed morning of chocolate chip pancakes. Kids don’t need to be impressed . . . they just need you.
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
~ 1 Peter 4:9, NIV
Elizabeth Oates is a wife, mother of three, and an author, blogger, and speaker who encourages, inspires, and equips a new generation of women seeking a deeper relationship with Christ. She is a cliché Generation Xer from a broken home who once searched for purpose and significance apart from Jesus Christ. Today she devotes her life to spreading the message that we are not defined by our past; our God is bigger than our broken family trees and stronger than the sins that weigh us down. She graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary and co-founded Project Restoration Ministry. To learn more about Elizabeth or receive her weekly blog, please visit ElizabethOates.com