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5 Ways to Stay in Touch With Your Grown Children

What's the best way to keep in touch with your grown kids? See more parenting pictures.
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You've guided them through their diaper days and the tough teen years, but maintaining a strong relationship with your children once they move out of the house just might be your biggest parenting challenge yet. As your adult children move on and start families of their own, they may find themselves too busy to keep in touch with mom and dad. Even kids who are highly motivated to stay in contact may have trouble reaching out due to distance or finances. Fortunately, new technologies have made it possible to stay in touch with your adult children no matter how many miles are between you.

Read on to learn about our picks for the top 5 ways to maintain a strong relationship with your kids when they leave the nest.

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Young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 send a staggering 2,000 text messages a month, and even those in their early 30s may send as many as 1,000, according to MSNBC.com. If you're having trouble getting your kids to stay in touch, it may be time to give texting a try.

This method of communication offers the perfect solution for parents and adult children who are simply too busy to keep up with regular phone calls or visits. Text messages and e-mails also represent a popular solution to the mismatched schedules between parents and young adults, which can make it difficult to get a hold of one another through traditional means. Texts and e-mails allow you or your kids to send short messages that can be answered whenever it's convenient for the recipient. This way, you can let your kids know you're thinking about them, and they can share news or updates at any time of day. Even if your children don't respond every time, they'll appreciate hearing from you, and with texts and e-mail, it's possible you'll actually hear back from time to time.

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Set up a weekly phone call with your child.
Set up a weekly phone call with your child.
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Let's face it. Not every parent has the technical savvy required to keep up with video chat or social networking programs. If you'd prefer a more traditional way to keep in touch, the old-fashioned phone call might just be the perfect solution. Rather than playing phone tag or getting frustrated when your kids don't call you often enough, suggest a weekly phone call during a time that's convenient for both of you. This type of arrangement helps to maintain clear expectations for both parents and kids, and takes the pressure off as to how often kids should keep in touch. It's also a reasonable compromise for children who claim they're simply too busy to call. Promise your kids that if they keep up this one weekly call, you won't nag them if they fail to call you during other times.

If you're on a fixed income, don't let long distance charges keep you from staying in touch with your kids. Companies like Assurance Wireless provide up to 250 minutes of free long distance to qualified applicants, which generally includes anyone who receives Medicaid, SSI or other low-income benefits.

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Remember those fancy videophones on the old Jetsons cartoon shows? Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, this type of phone call is not only possible, it may even be free. Video chat programs like Skype allow you to talk face to face with your kids no matter where they are in the world using only a computer. It may sound complicated, but all you'll need to do is download a free software program, then switch on your Web cam to connect with your children. Most laptops come with a built-in web cam, or you can purchase one that plugs into your computer for less than $50. For a small fee, you can even use Skype to chat via your cell phone or even your TV.

These web chat programs serve as the perfect way to keep in touch with children who live across the country, or even across the globe. While the high cost of airfare can make in-person meetings a rare event, Skype makes you feel like you're in the same room. If your kids tend to be too busy to set up regular chat times, simply stay logged into your account and keep your computer on. Just like many instant messaging programs, Skype let's you know when your friends and family are online so you can initiate a quick chat.

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Online social networking is a great way to keep up with your adult child. 
Online social networking is a great way to keep up with your adult child. 
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Thanks to Facebook and other social networking programs, many parents often know more about their adult children's lives now than they ever did when the child was living in the same house. By setting up a free profile on this popular online site, you can not only send messages and pictures to your kids, but also view their photos, videos and personal updates. Best of all, Facebook offers a glimpse into your child's everyday life, even if he or she is too busy to keep up with regular e-mails or phone calls. Simply logging in to check out what your child is up to each day may give you some peace of mind until the next time you can get him or her on the phone.

If you feel overwhelmed with this type of program, don't be afraid to ask your kids for help. Most will be willing to help you create your own profile, particularly if they prefer electronic communication to phone calls or visits. And of course, because the younger generation tends to be more technically savvy than their parents, your kids will know how to share their profiles with you while still maintaining some level of privacy.

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Don't forget that many of the things you share on Facebook can be broadcast to all of your child's friends. Avoid embarrassing or personal topics, and try to limit comments to no more than once a day or so.

Sure, technology makes keeping up with your adult children fairly easy, but sometimes there's just no substitute for a face-to-face meeting. If your kids live within a reasonable driving distance, suggest a monthly get-together or outing that will allow you to reconnect. For some families, this means a traditional home-cooked meal with mom and dad. For others, it may mean heading out to a favorite restaurant for dinner, or hitting up a favorite breakfast spot one weekend each month. If your kids live more than a few hours away, offer to meet at a spot halfway between your homes to help split the cost and time devoted to driving.

This type of physical get-together is particularly important once your kids have children of their own. Plan a special kid-friendly outing once a month to keep in touch with your kids and grandkids as they grow. It can be as simple as meeting at a local playground, or may involve more elaborate trips to amusement parks or museums. By choosing kid-friendly activities, you'll give your grandchildren a special treat while giving yourself a chance to reconnect with your own adult children.

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Sources

  • Cashin, Miranda. "Parents Stay In Touch With Facebook." The Queensland Times. April 29, 2011. (May 4, 2011) http://www.qt.com.au/story/2011/04/29/empty-nesters-flock-to-facebook-and-phones/
  • MSNBC. "Average American Teen Sends and Receives 3,339 Texts a Month." Oct. 14, 2010. (May 4, 2011) http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/10/14/5290191-average-american-teen-sends-and-receives-3339-texts-a-month
  • MSNBC. "Staying Connected Beyond Mother's Day." May 3, 2011. (May 4, 2011) http://money.msn.com/business-news/article.aspx?feed=BW&date=20110503&id=13532417
  • Reader's Digest. "Maintain a Healthy Relationship With Your Parents." (May 4, 2011)http://www.rd.com/family/maintain-a-healthy-relationship-with-your-parents/
  • Texas A&M University AgriLIFE Extension. "Building Positive Relationships." July 26, 2010. (May 4, 2011)http://fcs.tamu.edu/families/aging/elder_care/building_positive_relationships.php

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