Parenting: Distant Relatives

David Murphy having lunch with his sister in and their families in British Columbia.
David Murphy just got his kids together with some seldom seen relatives.
August 29, 2012 11:16:19 AM PDT
We just got back from a trip west which included a stop in Seattle for a visit with my sister and her family. She's been building a retirement getaway on a Canadian island in the Puget Sound for about seven years and I was the last member of the immediate family to finally get my butt out to see it. What a nice treat! The home is nearly finished and is only steps away from a rocky beach perfect for launching sea kayaks and seal snooping.

She's on the west coast, of course, and I'm on the east coast, which has afforded less of a chance to visit over the years than either of us would like, but making the effort to get together from time to time has been worth it, not only for me, but for my kids, too. It's amazing how little time it takes for the cousins to get yapping again, as they all recognize their special bond and enjoy keeping up with each other.

Another reason to keep in touch is that, as kids get older, you never know what geographical shifts may occur. Out of the blue, my nephew wound-up in New York State for his undergrad years and is now in grad school in New York City. How nice it was for us to be on good enough terms to make him feel comfortable with Thanksgiving visits the past five years, which has been fun for all of us. My sister has also appreciated that her son has had a family shelter for a holiday weekend too short to allow travel back west.

In closing, if your family is also spread far and wide, don't let the distance become an insurmountable barrier. Cut some vacation time out of every several years and see about staying in personal touch. It can pay dividends to you and the rest of your family down the road when kids get older and start moving around. You may be in the position to help out nieces and nephews who come travelling in your direction years later, and your kids may also be helped by being familiar with an aunt or an uncle. It's a lot easier and more comfortable when you already have an established relationship, even if it is over many miles and visits are separated by many months.

---David Murphy

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