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May 9, 2014
Star News


Effects of parenting from a distance
Bjorn Burke, Staff Reporter

Parents who embark on a journey to economic advancement often conduct long-distance relationships with their children. Such relationships, according to at least one family therapist, can make or break a child.

Executive Director of Family Counselling Centre of Jamaica, Dr Sidney McGill, commented on the effects of long-distance parenting on children.

"A concern for most Jamaicans is economics, how to make ends meet. As much as it's not the ideal situation to raise a family long distance, the parent who is migrating should talk to the child so there is a smoother transition." Dr McGill explained.

"If the child is very dependent, it is going to be harder for the child to cope," he added.

Dr McGill advised that there are several warning signs to be observed.

"A child can exhibit all kinds of behaviour. Most common is disruptive behaviour in class. Usually, the caregiver and parents need to maintain contact with the child's teacher, especially in the first year. The first year is critical. I recommend that the child maintain a daily routine before and after the departure of the parent. Offer lots of encouragement and praise, but at the same time be firm," he said.

The relationship maintained with a child over long distances requires parents to be in tune with the child's emotions. By keeping the avenues of communication open, keeping close contact with the child throughout trials and tribulations, a loving, trustworthy and close relationship can be maintained, he said.

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