Dear Savvy Auntie,

My two nephews (my only two nephews) recently moved overseas! My sister's husband is in the military and so the family moved to his new assignment. Are there any suggestions, ideas, advice on how I can bond with them without going broke (from sending gift packages with international postage)? They are too young to have email and the family laptop/Internet is not something they are interested in or allowed to use yet. I do write them very short letters and send them cards, but their reading level is still not advanced enough that they would be able to read a long heartfelt letter with "big words".

I feel as though my options for communicating with them are limited and as though I cannot adequately and effectively convey to them how much I love them and miss them and that I DO think about them all the time. Because they are young I am so afraid that they will start to forget their Auntie (ME!) or that I will eventually become a faded memory of someone they once knew and can't quite remember. HELP! Any ideas of how to stay "in their face" long distance and in the forefront of their minds as they grow so fast?! Thank you!

Long-Distance Auntie

Dear Long-Distance Auntie,

Of course they feel your devoted love! Geography doesn’t dim that strong force. They will grow up soon enough and be on the computer and be able to read; so be patient. In the meantime “face time” is very easy to achieve, and free. Download Skype and have their parents do the same. It is a free program that enables you to communicate as if you are face to face. You might need to purchase a headset and camera, which are perfect holiday gifts at this time of year. Then set up a Skype date and have a lovely visit with your nephews.

Another option is to buy them a gift of a book a month for their parents to read to them. Also, have them make pictures for you and tell their parent the story of the pictures (remember, scribbles are pictures, too) and send them to you.

[Editor's Note: More LDA (Long-Distance Auntie) activities are available in Savvy Auntie's activities section.]

Young children are much more interested in their world than in yours. This will keep the connection meaningful and very alive between you.

Keep in mind that they are in a community that reflects your issue and they take heart that their friends have similar situations.

Happy “Auntying,”
Natalie Robinson Garfield

Published: December 7, 2010

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