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I'm living in Spain and my kid is with my wife back in Brazil for now (they will join me later).

The hardest feeling I have is that I'm not interacting with my kid as much as I would like to, we try some Skype calls and stuff but as hes only 4 yo it's hard to keep his attention.

Do you have any suggestions of things we could do together remotely?


I have created the question in parenting as suggested: https://parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/21066/ways-to-interact-with-my-kid

  • 2
    (+1) Great question! Although I think it's fully on-topic here, parenting.stackexchange.com might also be of interest. – Gala Jul 3 '15 at 14:19
  • I think people who live abroad will probably have more knowledge and insights about this than parents who have never such an experience. Anyway, I'll create the question there too and reference one in another. – Panthro Jul 4 '15 at 10:25
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I have no direct experience being a Skype parent, but have seen cases where the immigration rules have prevented family reunion. Also, the BBC has run stories about the phenomenon of Skype parenting.

It's hard for a 4 year old to get their heads around interacting with someone through Skype. It can be structured as a regular activity, like bedtime so that the child factors it into their daily routine. Skype interaction can be strained and awkward, and often no need for anything more than a simple "Good night, sleep well, call me any time you want".

The other hint I can suggest is to set up the camera in the child's room (or family room) such that the whole room is visible and keep Skype on for a long time. You don't have to keep a conversation going the whole time, just be there if the child has a question or wants to tell you something.

Get the other parent to teach the child how to use Skype and give the child access to an iPad so they can take it with them and initiate a call whenever they want.

In immigration cases, it's more difficult because the family reunion is in a state of limbo, but based upon what you wrote your reunion is more logistical; so for sure you can spend a moment with your child marking the calendar and counting down. "180 days to go...", "179 days to go..." etc.

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    We already do the calendar approach, which helps a lot and it's amazing because for them is really hard to understand how long it's gonna take. There were other really nice suggestions in your answer! Thank you very much! I won't select an answer right now to encourage more people to answer it! – Panthro Jul 5 '15 at 21:54
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I have experience as a Skype child: my father left to work abroad at the time when internet was still dial-up, and web cameras just entered the market, so trying these new technologies as a child was quite exciting at that time. I guess this does not apply any more, as tech is already part of a child's life.

These are some ideas I would enjoy both as a child or as a parent:

  • the already-mentioned calendar approach: counting days just as if it was Chrismas-time, perhaps choosing a different color for each month (mark July with blue, August with green, up to the time when the red means the last days/hours until you meet)
  • besides being available all the time, set an exact Skype time on each day (if your work schedule allows), so that the child could look forward every day for it
  • choose small details to prepare the child for the moving, such as showing him the room he will stay at, something waiting just for him to arrive and try it, such as a playground in the area - these can be applied if you already rent/own the place where the whole family would be living and know the surroundings (instead of looking for it after they arrive to Spain); maybe the 4-year old would not remember such details on the span of more months, but if you do this in the last 2-3 weeks, he might - and will make you keep your promise :)
  • do some magic: synchronize some common activity with your family, such as a simple dinner; ask your wife to cook the same thing as you do, and eat it "together", make the child surprised of how can you eat the same thing as s/he does! This might be a bit tricky due to the time zone delay, but not impossible
  • try snail mail: choose some topic, ask your child to draw something about it (such as how would he like to have his room when he arrives), have it mailed through classical post; when the letter arrives, show it to him on the camera, and who knows, you would also get some hints on how to prepare for the arrival

Of course, these all depend on your personalities, your own and your family's free time, and maybe on the time zone delay. I wish you good luck, patience and strength until the time you get united again!

  • Nice suggestions, appreciate the effort.. Loved the "snail mail" approach!!! Really good insight, I'll certainly use it. – Panthro Jul 15 '15 at 14:02
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Beneath all things you actually can do, which I am sure are restricted, I mean, beneath Internet, Postals and Phone, there is nothing else you can really use to communicate with each other on this distances.

I want to empathize here more on another point:

  1. I was as child often alone with either my mamma(!) :) or my dad. One of both always was "abroad" working. As child, I did not feel the absence of my father that much as the absence of my mother. First did actually not even really bother me, while second was almost insupportable.

This will be different form child to child, but I think, who suffered the most back then, where actually my parents, not me. Children forget and focus elsewhere very fast.

So, since there is not much you can do, I would rather ask myself, how the child is feeling about and what are the consequences for the child (probably way less painful then for you personally)

  1. Since your situation seems to be temporarily, I think (specially begin the child 4 years old), you can't really do much here, but perhaps you can pay up afterwards. I am saying this in the sense, that it was for me way more important to have my parents around and "communicative" as "real" persons, instead of phone or Skype calls (which we of course did not have back then)

To "ease" your own thoughts and feelings, I suggest the same as the child does to solve it: Distraction.

the more you think about this situation, the more painful it becomes. The more you distract you with something, it can actually even be something you do for the child, like, who knows, build him a little Playground out in the garden (sorry, I don't know where and how you live...) can distract yourself enough and give a feeling of closeness, which, I am sure, the child feels even if 1000 of miles away from you.

We humans try to always "materialize" communication, while I am sure, specially childs have great working other kind of "sensors"....

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I have no direct experience either, and you may be doing this already. I would send short, simple emails or postcards that your wife can read to him. I would also send pictures of where you're staying, what it looks like outside, places you'll visit when he arrives, and so on.

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