My Children’s Long-Distance Relationship
When you hear about long-distance relationships I am sure the first thing that pops into your head is a romantic one. While that sometimes happens between adult partners, a lot more long distance relationships are those of children and their relatives. My daughters do not have many relatives on either my or my husband’s side and they also rarely get to see them. How do you build a relationship between your kids and their relatives if they do not live nearby?
My husband’s parents live in a different state but we tend to see them every two-three months or even more. However my family lives in Russia and although my mom tries to come and visit annually, she rarely stays longer than 4 weeks. That is 4 weeks out of the 52 weeks a year that my mom is face to face with my children. However you would be surprised to know that at almost 2 and 4.5 they are fully aware of my side of the family! They know they have a babushka and a dedushka who live far away. My oldest can even find where they live on her little globe.
I might be a little more zealous in this than most, but it is of importance to me to maintain a relationship between my relatives and my children even though they live half a world apart. I was purposeful in my decision to ensure they speak Russian, because my relatives do not. I was determined to find the time every week or several times a week to dedicate to my children developing the relationship with my relatives in Russia.
You probably guessed that Skype, Google Chat and FaceTime play a large role. At least once a week I get my parents on the computer video-chatting with my kids. Usually we just go about our usual morning routine on one of the week-end days and they see us getting the kids dressed, getting breakfast ready and having breakfast. We update them on what’s going on with us, the kids talk about their week (or just repeat babushka, dedushka, ljublju many times in a row as my almost 2 year old is known to do). We are silly, we discipline, we live our life and have my parents be a part of it.
My parents love these hours of the face time with the girls. It is the highlight of their week and they were known to say that it is better than going to the movies for them. For this reason alone I feel that the time I spend ensuring the kids speak Russian and all the extra effort that goes into it is worth it! Having my parents and my kids talk to each other, understand each other, being able to share their week’s news, their moods, read books, sing songs and be silly together – that is worth it to me!
And when we have no time for a long video call we try to call just for 5-10 minutes while on our way somewhere to say hello, to inquire about the health and well-being, to hear their voices and let them hear the children’s’ voices.
Yes, technology plays a big part but for me the Russian Language is a huge part of being able to have a meaningful and precious relationship between my parents and my kids.
But this is not all that we do. We talk about babushka and deduska and diadia on a daily basis. We discuss that when it’s morning for us, it’s evening for them. We look at the globe, maps, google earth and see where they live and where we do. We chat about how long of a trip it is to get to one place from the other. That a plane ride is involved. We discuss seasons, food, music, books and I answer many questions that are of importance to the kids. The most recent one is: when are we going to visit babushka? when are we going to see our cousins? I was not able to go to Russia with my kids since they were born, but now that they are asking these questions, I am looking forward to planning our trip together with them!
Another thing that we do is sending mail. We draw and write and create art to send to Russia, we also get postcards from wherever we visit and attach postage and send to Russia to say hello.
All these activities that happens between the yearly visits keep my relatives close to my children’s hearts even when they are away.