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Communication Ideas for Dads at a Distance

— North Dakota State University Extension Service
Updated on Feb 29, 2008

One of the biggest factors that makes it challenging for family members to stay connected today is found in one word — distance. Fathers may be gone frequently due to business travel, military deployment, or other reasons. Many fathers do not currently live with their children. So, how can dads who are often at a distance from their kids keep the communication lines open? Here are some communication ideas for dads at a distance.

  • Purchase or make stickers of your child’s name and stick them over the names of a character in one of their favorite books. You can also get a picture of your child’s face and place it over the character’s face.

  • Make a video and/or audio tape of you reading bedtime stories. Send them to your child along with the book.

  • Arrange for flowers, pizza, etc. to be delivered to your child before or after a special evening (a play, recital, sports game). Include a note telling your child how proud you are of his or her accomplishments.
  • Send home a photo documentary of what you do all day when you are away. Be sure to include things like what you eat, how you travel, etc. Things that you might think are boring, your kids will be very interested in seeing. Have someone help your child to do the same thing.
  • If both you and your child have access to cell phones, then go fishing with them from a distance.
  • Send a “postcard attack” to your child. Send a postcard every day for a week straight. Try to send postcards from unique places.
  • If your child does not already have access to a speaker phone, then buy one. Set the phone in the middle of the room, and you will be able to have dinner with them, be there as they brush their teeth and get ready for bed, etc.
  • Choose a photo from your photo album that you can send to your child. Write a letter explaining the events surrounding it.
  • Begin a Life’s Lessons Booklet. Each week write down a few of the lessons you’ve learned in life and how you learned those lessons. When the booklet is full, send it to your child to use.

  • Send home money so that your child can go to the ice cream parlor. Be sure to send a special letter along that can only be read at the ice cream parlor. If you both have access to cell phones, then you can both be at an ice cream parlor talking over your ice cream. Try including surprises in with your letters: fast food wrappers, foreign currency, an eraser, coasters, Band-Aids, your own art, flower petals, Sunday comics, sand, fortunes from cookies, newspaper clippings, stamps, crumbs from breakfast, or other little things to show you were thinking of them.

  • If both you and your child have access to the Internet, then go on a virtual field trip together. Be sure to use a free program like AOL Instant Messenger so you can communicate with each other while looking at the Web pages. A couple of placesto start would be NASA at www.nasa.gov 
    www.pbs.org
  • Start a letter and take it with you throughout the day. Add a sentence every now and then and be sure to add where you are when you write the different sentences, i.e. an elevator, taxi, restaurant, office, etc.

(Used by permission of the National Long Distance Relationship Building Institute, 2001. Information found at http://www.fambooks.com/)

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