Seven Ways to Stay Close When Family Lives Far Away

I grew up in the same city as my dad’s side of the family, but my mom’s side was a nine hour drive away. Somehow I always felt close to my mom’s side even though we only saw them twice a year. My husband and I are raising our children far away from both sides of the family, and we work hard to keep in touch and have our children grow up knowing and loving their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Here are some of the things we do:

1. In Person Visits: I am so thankful that I live at a time when traveling long distances can be done in a day instead of weeks. We visit both sides of the family (who live 8 hours and 12 hours driving from us and 9 hours from each other) at Christmas time and also during the summer. That is about twice a year. Most years they will visit us in the autumn and/or the spring. That means we see each other about four times a year. Usually our road trips include stops at our grandparent’s homes or family gatherings with the extended family. The visits allow us to set aside days at a time to spend time with each other, which we might not normally do were we not living so far apart.

2. Telephone Calls: I am also thankful for unlimited long distance! It was not that long ago that long distance phone calls cost a person by the minute. I can call my parents or siblings whenever I want for however long I need to. I call for advice, to chat, or to share a silly story. And I let my kids chat. Though we have found video chat to be more effective for children.

3. Video Calls: My kids Skype with their grandparents about once a week. It starts off with some disjointed conversation where I fill in what we have been up to lately and then the kids request to be read to and they sometimes spend close to an hour with their grandparents reading them stories over the internet. I am pretty sure it is a cherished activity all around. We also Skype with my sister and her children, so the cousins can see each other and interact more than just during their visits.

4. Social Media: I have found that people use the social medias differently, and for me I post things about my children on Facebook mainly for those relatives and friends who care to know about my children are doing or what they look like. Even mine and my husband’s grandparents have Facebook accounts. I know that if I share a photo of the kids on there, that they will see it and be glad. One of the reasons I have my personal blog, is so that those who I do not always get a chance to talk to or email can know what is going in my life.

5. Texting (as opposed to Social Media): Sometimes I take a picture on my phone that I would rather just send to the most immediate relatives. Sharing every moment on the internet is a little too much for friends who do not particularly care to see what my children are doing, but sharing a sweet moment with an uncle is just right.

6. Snail Mail: My children love to make cards for their relatives, and a birthday is a great reason for them to decorate a card for a relative they love. Or some of that artwork the children make can just be sent in the mail to someone who would love to receive it.

7. Prayers: Praying for family is the best way to stay close to family whether you live nearby or live far away. Praying for others fills your heart with God’s charity for them, drawing you into a deeper union for them. Asking your family to pray for your intentions opens your heart to their love and God’s love through them. And prayer reminds us that even though we live far apart in this life, if we live holy lives we will be able to be united through all eternity with those that we love in Heaven.