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How To Deal With Long Distance Family Relationships

Do you want to know how to deal with long-distance family relationships? I'm gonna share with you 3 things that you can do to improve those long-distance relationships and be sure to stay tuned for the last one because I think it might surprise you. 

Number 1: Make Sure That You Plan Contact Times

So, when a family is close together and they plan things they're gonna be doing together or they plan times to have contact. So, maybe they would have a plan to have a meal around the table or maybe if all of your children are grown, then you would be planning oh, we're gonna have you know, the first Saturday of every month, we're gonna have brunch or the first Sunday of every month, we're gonna have a family dinner or something like that. B

ut when someone is far away long distance, then they're not able to come to some of those things that you might be doing with other members of the family so what you need to do is in your mind, prepare well, when am I gonna have regular contact with that person? 

Now, some people are just gifted at remembering to contact every person they know all the time. I am not that person, okay, so what I have to do because I get caught up in the day-to-day things in life is I have to make sure that I actually got myself down a note. 

Something that says okay, every Sunday afternoon about 3pm, call your son or Facetime your son, you know? So, my son lived far from home for multiple years and I've had children go off to lots of different states and places for college and so I have to plan when to reach out to them. 

The cool thing is I started noticing that they seem to be planning to reach out to me too and we didn't always have to same times that we would reach out to each other so sometimes instead of that once a week, it would be like twice a week. 

In fact, for many of my children in college, they wanted to contact me like every other day just to kind of tell me what's going on because that's what you miss when you don't have family nearby. You don't have that person to tell you this is what happened. And so if you can keep some of that stuff going on and you can tell each other just the day-to-day things, it keeps you feeling closer to each other even though you might be further apart. So, plan those connection times and you will probably create a habit that lasts for a long time. 

Number 2, Tell More

You know, so often we're like okay. I'm just gonna call them, I need to have contact and then we just sit there and kind of passively waiting for the other person to tell us stuff but we need to tell more about what's going on. We've got to open up and share our feelings about things and try to take our conversations to a new level of connection. 

We need to share our hopes and our dreams and our goals and we need to have the time to plan together as family members for who we want to be even though we're far apart. So I have a family member that I was kind of estranged from for a while. 

She didn't live near me and we just kind of drifted apart. I love this person to death but we do have a history of not really talking to each other that much so I decided I wanted to improve the relationship and so I started reaching out to her. So there were texts and things that happened but they were just kind of surface like hey, how are you I'm thinking of you.

Number 3: Communication

Oh, I'm good. Everything's fine. How about you? Okay, great. I mean that's really surface level so there are 4 different levels of communication and we need to remember that so the first level is the pleasantries. How are you doing? What's going on, you know? That kind of stuff. The 2nd level of communication is stating the facts like oh, I did this or my child did this or I got a new job or whatever, that's stating the facts. Kind of still surface level but going a little bit deeper. 

Then comes the feelings. I really felt this, you know? Oh, at that election that just happened, this thing occurred, In fact, I felt this. So, now we're at level 3 of communication, okay? Level 4 which is the deepest level of communication is where you talk about your needs and you really get vulnerable with each other. So, as you can see, each level of communication creates more and more vulnerability which opens the door to bonding and accepting and loving and understanding which hopefully decreases judgment. 

Sometimes when you're not communicating well with a person, it's because you've made assumptions in your mind about that person and you're actually kind of judging them even when you might not even recognize that. So, telling yourself I've got to go to a deeper level of communication can really help. So with this family member, I decided that I needed more than the occasional text. I tried a phone call and it was pretty good but it was still a little bit awkward and then I realized you know what? I just need to go see that person. 

Yup, so I made an effort to go for a visit and have a nice, long talk asking them questions so that they can tell me more and opening up more about things that maybe weren't so perfect in my life too and that created texts and phone calls after the fact that we went deeper, where we just started telling each other more things. So, don't hold back from your family. 

They'll love you no matter what so tell them the things that are in your heart. Go to that deeper level, tell more, and have a better bond. Before I get to my final thing which might be a little surprising to some of you, comment below about some of the things that maybe you have tried and have been successful at bonding with other people or some of the struggles you've been experiencing with some of your family members and I'll see if I can respond right back. 

Alright now here's that surprising one. I hope it's surprising. You know just because you are far away from another person does not mean that you can't do anything together so even if you can't be in the same physical location, there are a lot of fun things that you can do and you can even have meetings and discussion times. 

So, our family does crazy things together just regularly and we didn't want to leave our out-of-town children and their spouses out of it so we just started opening it up to the virtual world as well. So for instance we had an Easter egg decorating contest and the people who were not with us still decorated Easter eggs at the same time. 

We talked about it during the process, they compared the Easter eggs and we had a winner in the contest. We also have different scavenger hunts around town and brought them with us to show us the things that we're doing and show them the photos and the funny pictures that were taken. 

They can be with you on activities. We live in a digital age. There is no reason that we can't invite them to be part of a family activity even though they're not right there with us. Now, I know that seems a little bit weird but after the pandemic, is anything digital weird really? We've done it all, right? So we can have family meetings together digitally. 

From the time our children were tiny toddlers, we had meetings together with our family where we would talk about who we are as the Peck family, where we're going, and how we can improve our communication, or maybe what projects that we're gonna take on as a group. But you can still do those things as an extended family or a family that's growing or a family that's not necessarily living in the same house anymore. 

Maybe it's not gonna be every week, maybe it's gonna be every month or you just have a meeting together and you talk about what everybody's doing and people report and you talk about maybe a trip you want to take, make plans or a humanitarian thing that your family might work on together. People can send stuff in from wherever they're at, that works. 

So, I hope that you think outside of the box. When you are coming up with how to bond with your family, don't think that activities have to be in-person and discussions have to be in person because they don't. You can do them virtually now and still get some of those great laughs and moments that you would get when you're right next to the people. If you've enjoyed this article about improving communication and connection in those long-distance relationships.

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