Building family relationships over distance
Raising a family can be very challenging when the rest of your family live overseas. It can be hard for your children to have close relationships with other family members when they live away. It can also be hard for you, not having close-by support from your loved ones.
Family members have an emotional bond. They often share the same values and goals.
Children benefit when they know their family members love each other and look after each other. This will help them develop their own strong relationships in later life.
It's important that they see healthy family relationships being kept — even when this is from a distance.
Even if they don't see them often, it is important for your relatives to tell your child that they are important to them and they love them.
What can I do to help build the relationships?
Keep your relatives up to date with:
- your child's life
- their interests
- their friendships
- their likes and dislikes
Try to share family rituals and milestones by video chat or phone, like:
- religious holidays
- other important events
What can my overseas family do to help build the relationships?
Your family may wish to:
- read your child a bedtime story via the internet
- send letters or cards by post — children love getting mail
- share links and photos — this can be done through private social media pages for your family
These tips can help you stay in touch and keep relationships strong over distance:
- Share experiences, both good and bad — show your relatives that you value their advice.
- Treat your family members with respect to show your children how to treat them.
- If your family is from another culture, help your children to understand their culture and how to be respectful.
- Try to keep your cultural traditions alive.
- Involve your relatives in new family rituals that you develop.
Technology can make it easier to build family relationships over distance. It can allow your relatives to still communicate with you regularly and be involved in your family life.
This helps to develop strong, positive relationships with your children.
These are some ways that you can use technology to stay in touch:
- call or video call at regular times
- send photos or short videos
- connect through social media
- send text messages or emails to stay connected
Short but frequent contact can help your family members feel involved.
Managing conflict over distance
Sometimes families who live apart might have differences of opinion. There can be conflict due to differences in:
- the health system
- cultural practices
- different views about parenting
Conflict is normal for all families. Families grow stronger when they work together to find ways of overcoming conflict.
It is important for children to see how you deal with conflict and listen to different opinions. This will help them become confident in dealing with conflict themselves.
Read more about managing cultural differences over raising children here.
Managing without family support nearby
Without nearby support from your family, you may worry about how to care for your baby when you go back to work. However, there are a wide range of childcare choices in Australia.
The StartingBlocks.gov.au website can help you find childcare services in your area.
You may be eligible for help with fees. You can read more about the Child Care Subsidy here.
Meeting other families
There are many ways to meet other parents and build relationships.
Social media can also be useful. Look for local parenting groups and networks on Facebook. You can talk about any concerns you have with your baby. And you can make friends too.
Your child health nurse can also help put you in touch with a parent's group or playgroup.
You can also build relationships by being active in your community. You can try:
- joining your child's school community
- getting involved at your local place of worship
Activities for older children
Your local council will have information on children's activities that are available in your area. These groups and activities can give both you and your child the chance to make friends.
You can also visit the local library. Many libraries offer activities for children and parents, such as music sessions and storytelling. They often have information in different languages about things to do in your area.
You can also enrol your child in activities, such as:
Resources and support
Migrant resource centres or multicultural resource centres help new migrants and refugees to settle in Australia.
If you are a migrant, you can read more about support for migrants to Australia here.
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby
Pregnancy, Birth and Baby offers support and advice on everything to do with having a baby. You can ask experts the questions you might normally ask your family about when raising a family.
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 for support and advice. You can use the Translating and Interpreting Service to call.
Adjusting to a new country - video
Video provided by Raising Children Network.
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Last reviewed: October 2023