Good Life

Fathering: Strong relationships transcend digital communication

On vacation in Maine, we had the “traumatic” experience of no internet and only spotty cell phone reception. Not only were we unable to read the latest news or check email, but we were cut off from daily contact with our kids. We went two days without communication.

This experience brought home to me how normal and expected it is today to have instantcontact with family members who live far away. Being able to stay in touch via email, texting, Skype, Facebook, etc. are good things, but not everything, when it comes to staying close as a family. Spending time face-to-face is essential for having the kinds of meaningful conversations about the subjects that really matter.

Action ideas

• Recognize the limits of electronic forms of communication. It’s best for general news but not so good for topics that are sensitive.

• Maintaining closeness with children requires time. Extended time together is important for getting beyond the news and the “we are all fine here” statements to talking about the weightier and more substantial topics.

• Fathers and mothers may need to take the initiative for arranging visits. Adult children, especially those who live far away, are busy and may have limited time for travel. Consider ways to make your visit easy on them or consider organizing a family vacation.