Why Don't You Call?
How to Manage Long-Distance Relationships With Your Kids
Take A Breather
While there are many useful means for keeping connected, sometimes it's also important to take a step back and let your kids initiate contact, says Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., author of The Dutiful Worrier: How to Stop Compulsive Worry Without Feeling Guilty. "Limiting the number of times per week you call may be difficult at first," he says. "However, when you stop calling or messaging so much, your kids may start calling or messaging you more. When your children contact you rather than you contacting them, you will seem to be less overbearing to them." He notes that giving kids the chance to call you first may also help them along in the growing-up process and to assume more responsibility for themselves.
It's almost impossible not to worry about your kids, especially when they're no longer living under your watchful eye. However, sometimes this concern goes too far and can cause anxiety for both parents and children, notes Cohen. "Many parents tell themselves that they have a moral duty to worry about their kid's welfare. That if they don't, then horrible might happen, and then they'd be bad parents and terrible people for having not been there for their kids," he says.
The next time your child forgets to call when they said they would, don't jump to conclusions and imagine potential worst-case scenarios. "This means not sitting there paralyzed with fear or ritualistically dialing your kid's phone number over and over again," he says. "Watch TV, play with the dog, or do something else that usually relaxes you. Once you get used to not panicking, you can eventually learn to handle such situations with relative ease."
Your goal should be to become "a rationally concerned parent, not a worrywart," says Cohen. "The former can motivate you to pay attention to real concerns when they arise and act responsibly. The latter usually gets in the way, especially when it is dutiful, chronic and driven by needless guilt or fear."