3d illustration: Land and a group of suitcases. To take a vacation rentalMany times when people get divorced, one or both or the parties to the divorce move.  It may be just down the street, or across town or to another city entirely.  Maybe your Dad lives in another state or Mom has moved to an entirely different country.  What can you do to maintain a relationship with a parent who no longer lives close by?

This can be a tough situation, and it can be hard to stay in contact because of distance and time constraints.  There are some things you can do in those circumstances however to make sure that you still maintain a relationship with your distant parent. So, what can you do to stay in touch with a parent when you don’t get to speak with them or see much if at all?  Here are some ideas:

  1. Introduce your distant parent to new technology.  In these days of instant communication, you don’t have to see your parent face-to-face to communicate with them. Apps like Facetime and Skype allow almost anyone to video conference these days, and there is no reason you can’t see your parent and talk to them using these great programs.  Texting, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all allow you to share what is going on in your life and allow your parent to do the same.  There are apps for other devices like iPods and Tablets that allow you to text even if you don’t have a cellular connection.
  2. Write letters.  From new high tech gadgets to old school, there is still something special about a handwritten letter.  Pour your heart out, or just let your parent know what is going on in your life.  A handwritten letter is just more personal than a message on a smart phone.
  3. Record videos and send them to your parent.  They might not be able to be at your school recital or soccer game, but there’s no reason they can’t experience some of it.  Make a little video, even if it’s just a short Vine or Intagram video, and send it to them.  Ask them to video themselves and send it back to you.
  4. Send personal things back and forth.  If you created a work of art in school, or in your spare time, send it to your parent.  If they go on a business trip, ask them to get you something and send it to you.  Make a “treasure box” that you can send back and forth.
  5. Keep a journal. One reason that proximity helps to build relationships is because you get to share mutual experiences.  You can’t do that if your parent lives hours away, but if you keep a journal of things you want to let your parent know, or exciting things you want to share with them, you can make sure that they don’t miss out entirely on the important moments of your life.  Consider keeping two journals, you write in one one month and your parent writes in the other, then you swap them (by mail) and you get to read your parents’ journal for the last month and record your thoughts in that one.
  6. Schedule a regular trip.  Just because you can’t see your parent as much as you would like doesn’t mean you can’t schedule regular trips to see them whether you go there or they come to see you.  Even if it’s only once or twice a year, talk to your parents about putting something on the calendar so you have that time to look forward to.

Your new arrangement is difficult, no doubt, but with a little bit of work and imagination, you can find a way to keep your relationship with your distant parent strong and thriving.  If there are other things you have tried, please share them in the comments below so we can all learn from you.