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Parenting from afar

By Sarah Klein

Whether you live apart from your children, or just miss them terribly during an adults-only winter getaway, the Internet has undoubtedly made parenting from afar an easier task. We can set up webcams to see relatives living far away, and even chat with them for free between computers.

In 2006, the latest year for which data is available, a report from the Urban Institute found that 4.7 million children did not live with their mothers, up from 3.7 million in 1997. No matter the reason for living apart, both parents and kids may need some extra support in making these long-distance relationships work.

We've sifted through some of the insightful, supportive, and helpful resources and found these four websites that can make virtual parenting flow a little bit smoother.

If you're looking for a new way to connect:
Sometimes a video chat or a phone call isn't enough. A Story Before Bed is a fun and creative way to connect with your child. The site is stocked with stories that parents can read and record with a webcam. The saved recording can then be played back whenever, and wherever, for a long-distance child who needs a little comfort when you can't tuck them in.

If you're looking for advice:
Although, The Long Distance Parent is only periodically updated, it contains an archive full of answers to all the questions a long-distance parent might have, ranging from how to tell a child you'll be going away to handling those first days of school to celebrating holidays.

If you're a long-distance divorced parent:
One of the most common reasons for long-distance parenting is divorce.  Virtual visitation, meaning any kind of communication between children and parents over the Internet, is now regulated by divorce law. Parents—and children alike—may have questions about how the laws affect their relationships. InternetVisitation.org has up-to-date news on legislation, how-to tips on nurturing a virtual relationship with a child, and many other resources.

If you're looking to strengthen relationships:
The National Institute For Building Long Distance Relationships has created various sites to answer questions and offer practical tips to everyone in a family, from Dads at a Distance, and Moms Over Miles, to grandparents, kids, and even long-distance couples.  Sign up for email tips on activity ideas, staying connecting, and nurturing your bond.

Comment by Family Matters, posted 12/22/2009, 1:21 AM:

Of course, all these services are great if we take being apart from our loved ones as a given, but is it good to make it easy to be apart? I wonder. Ronit Baras <a href="http://www.ronitbaras.com/">Family Matters</a>
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