So far yet so near

Ways to cope with dis­tance par­ent­ing.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY -

DIS­TANCE par­ent­ing is usu­ally the last op­tion for par­ents when they can’t find a babysit­ter or some­one nearby to help take care of their child while they go to work.

This is when they feel they have no other op­tion but to send their child to live with fam­ily mem­bers in an­other town or even a babysit­ter whom they trust but who lives far away.

In such sit­u­a­tions, the par­ents would see their kids on week­ends or only on a monthly ba­sis.

Fam­ily life ed­u­ca­tor and The Star colum­nist Charis Pa­trick says that in such cases, par­ents need to be in­ten­tional in their par­ent­ing.

This ba­si­cally means mak­ing an ef­fort to com­mu­ni­cate with the child reg­u­larly. The com­mu­ni­ca­tion needs to be at a fixed time at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals, say, phone calls ev­ery evening. It has to be per­sis­tent and con­sis­tent in or­der to build an in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship with the child.

“Be­cause you are sep­a­rated by dis­tance, you can­not leave things to chance. You need to be even more in­ten­tional so that it will bring about con­sis­tency and pre­dictabil­ity. Once we have this in place, it’s al­most an an­chor or a foun­da­tion in the re­la­tion­ship,” Pa­trick says, adding that hence, both the par­ent and child know that com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­comes a pri­or­ity.

“At the end of the day, whether there is dis­tance be­tween you and your child or not, you are build­ing a par­ent-child re­la­tion­ship which has to be strong and, hope­fully, deep, which means in­ti­mate,” she notes.

By in­ti­mate, she means a re­la­tion­ship where the par­ent and child know each other well and ac­cept each other for who and what they are.

Although par­ents will not be able to touch and hug their child dur­ing these reg­u­lar con­nec­tion times, they can still fo­cus on talk­ing and even see­ing them (if they make a video call).

Par­en­thots gets tips for par­ents who are sep­a­rated by dis­tance from their chil­dren – how to build the re­la­tion­ship, what to talk about, how to deal with guilt and an­guish, and when to take the kids back.

Shar­ing sto­ries

One mum writes about her baby who can sleep peacefully through thun­der­storms and fire­works but is eas­ily star­tled by the pass­ing of gas!

If you have a fer­til­ity, preg­nancy or par­ent­ing story to share, send it to par­en­thots@ thes­tar.com.my. It might be a funny story, tips or a new dis­cov­ery.

The best story ev­ery month wins a RM200 voucher from Gi­ant hy­per­mar­ket.

Book re­views

Amaz­ing Minds is an aca­demic par­ent­ing tome that is rooted in em­pir­i­cal re­search. Not for ev­ery­one.

Jack Gets A Clue is a cute de­tec­tive se­ries for kids aged seven and above. It’s what they can pick up and read as op­posed to Geron­imo Stil­ton and be­fore they get into the thicker mys­tery books for kids. Rec­om­mended.

Win Gin­ger­snaps vouch­ers

Gin­ger­snaps of­fers fash­ion­able clothes for chil­dren and preg­nant moth­ers.

The lead­ing brand for ma­ter­nity and chil­dren’s wear founded in the Philip­pines in 1994 has seen a rapid ex­pan­sion into more than 30 free-stand­ing bou­tiques in the South-east Asian re­gion.

Gin­ger­snaps has four bou­tiques in the Klang Val­ley – at Bangsar Shop­ping Cen­tre, Mid Val­ley Mega­mall, the Curve and Suria KLCC.

Gin­ger­snaps and Par­en­thots are now team­ing up to give three lucky par­ents a chance to win RM500 worth of vouch­ers each from the trendy bou­tique.

Go to Par­en­thots to en­ter the Gin­ger­snaps Con­test.

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