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How to Stay Connected: Long Distance Parenting Tips from a Distance-Parent's Perspective

Updated: Apr 3

Last August the dynamic of the Stewart household shifted as Lloyd (my husband) went away for school. It was the first time since we’d been married (seven years come July) that we were apart for more than one night and the first time Ariah wouldn’t consistently see her dad in person. And you guessed it… quite the transition for everyone involved. In my last blog post, I shared about long-distance parenting from my perspective, the parent who stayed with the child. Here, Lloyd describes his experience as a parent away from his family for just about three and a half months. 


Lloyd and Ariah

 

For as long as I can remember, moving to Canada was always a dream. Last year I was excited to finally be in Canada after so many years and plans to come here. The only problem was, that my family’s papers were not approved at the same time as mine, so I had to travel without them.  


When I got here, not hearing from IRCC (Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada) made me anxious, I was unsure of how soon I would be reunited with my family. I was obsessed with checking the application status to see if there were any updates. That and praying, I was always praying. 


I really missed my family. I know it is hard on the parent with the child but it was extremely hard to be away from my family for so long. 


I remember I missed one of Ariah’s dance shows that I would have loved to be a part of and that was very hard. There were times when she said to me or her mom “I wish daddy was here,” or “I wish daddy wasn’t in Canada'', and it was tough. 


When she got her assignment to draw a picture of who was in her family, she only drew who was in her household at the time and you know daddy was missing from the household, so she only drew mommy and her as her family. And while I understand, it was a bit difficult to see that to her, Daddy was not a part of her family. I know that was just how she processed it and I am not going to hold it against her or take it personally, but it mek mi feel a way (it made me feel bad). 

Her interpretation of family during long-distance parenting.
A toddlers drawing of her family. It represents what she understood while her father was a long distance parent and shows her and her mother as members of her family.
Ariah's drawing of her family


I would encourage any parent who does this to just take care of themselves because being alone can be even more stressful for your mental health. To cope, I was mainly going to school, the gym and online video calls with the family.  


Being a virtual parent had its perks and I was grateful to connect with my family, but it also had its downfall. One of the perks was that I could continue being a part of her (Ariah’s) development virtually. It was nice to see her development and how much more intelligent she was becoming day by day. She was usually happy to talk with me whenever we were talking. 


One of the things I didn’t like was her stubbornness towards her mother, because she usually listened to me but when her mother talked to her she wouldn’t listen as quickly. I don’t know if it was her way of adjusting but I never liked that. 


Recommendations for coping as a long distance parent

These were some of the hardest months for me. To anyone going through this process, here are my recommendations based on the lessons I learnt while away. 


  1. Talk with your partner before you leave about the reality; talk through different scenarios and plan for what you will do in each one, don’t just talk for talking sake. Tell them you know it’s going to be hard and encourage them to do what they need to do to take care of themself. As the parent who left with the child, tell them to get all the help they can get and don’t try to do everything alone.  

  2. Keep in constant dialogue with your family, continue to show up wherever you can. Be creative in being a part of your child’s life while you are away and take care of your mental health. I was in charge of spelling and would help her prepare for her spelling test each week. It is going to be hard being away from your family, but doing what you can to connect helps. 

  3. If you’re planning to move your family to where you are, ensure you have somewhere in place where they are going to stay and ensure that the living condition is ideal and up to par for their arrival. Ensure that the house is in livable condition. Ensure they have a home to come to and the home is comfortable. If it is heat, ensure they have proper heating, test it out before they come. Do as much as you can to make them comfortable upon their arrival.

  4. Get involved and keep in touch. For me, going to the gym just to clear the headspace, calling your family virtually just to see them, going to the father in prayer, talking to other family members all helped. Don’t bottle everything up, talk to your family members. Meet new friends where you can.

  5. Do as much as you can to ease the burden of the parent at home. If you can assist with homework, assist with homework. If you can play games with your child, do that to occupy their time and free up the other parent’s time. This will also help you to feel connected. 



Final Thoughts: Stay connected with loved ones

Long distance parenting is hard. For it to be successful, both parties need to communicate with each other, be open and discuss the difficulties, and don't be afraid to get help if you need it. I hope you find this insightful. Share it with a parent who you think may need it. And as usual, thanks for reading!


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1 Comment


What a great post about long distance parenting. Such a neet perspective. The drawing of the child’s family that did not include the long distance parent broke my heart. Lloyd must have wanted to run back home!

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