I’m on my seventh flight of the week, the 17th of the year, and the fourth with my kids. Those incredible beings who I fly effectively around the world each time to visit them.
Why around the world? Well, I live in Taiwan; they’re in Maine. We’re literally on the other side of the world in our lives.
When they’re awaking, I close my eyes. And vice versa.
It was a two-year struggle, yet despite the distance, we now have a good and healthy relationship. Only because I stopped forcing the relationship.
My Agenda Fails Me
I pushed for and rarely got a couple of weekly chats by my call agenda. Which ended up with many reschedulings and limited call durations.
That was not the relationship I wanted with my kids. I wanted them to know that despite our physical distance, I was there for them.
I’m curious about their lives, interested in their actions, and supportive of what they do. Even to be there for Jace’s 3 AM Taiwan call to share their prekindergarten day.
My kids were too polite to never say no to the phone schedule though last-minute misses were common.
Through reflection, I felt that I failed to demonstrate healthy love for Drusus and Jace by forcing my agenda. Further, I realized that when we three were together, I practiced CDP, yet not remotely.
Child Directed Play
Child directed play (CDP) is an easy, respectful thing to do.
In asking my kids what they wanted to do and following through, in the beginning, I found myself bored with card games, trains, cars, other kids at the park, and whatever they shared.
My kids are the priority.
Through more reflection, I realized that by being grateful for the time they shared with me, my attention readily became on them, and the boredom departed. My kids’ curiosity and joy became mine.
So as I learned to quiet down and listen more to my team members at Axelerant and actively demonstrate an interest in them, I did the same for my kids.
After a couple of months, we had a recurring Saturday 7 AM Eastern call that we did our best not to miss to share our week, read a book, and talk about Roblox.
Family-based Online Gaming
On the last day of an in-person visit, Jace and Drusus negotiated with me that I would play Roblox with them as their fee for going hiking.
And so, the adventures of Drusander, Jannonde, and Rongzhica came to be. And with it, building boats, eating dinosaurs, and cringing at the words, I got killed.
Through playing together, conversations became more accessible, and interactions didn’t feel forced. And, when Screen Time said the allotted 90-minutes of gaming was up, we would move on to other things. At times, for 3 hours overall.
After battling for glory in Mech Arena and mining stuff in Roblox, we would start music practice, chit-chatting, critiquing stories, and, more surprisingly, do our own things quietly while asking a question or sharing something now and then.
These days, when bedtime or other obligations finally beckon me, I feel sad that our time online is at a close. Yet, I’m pleased about our bright time together.
And now, despite the months separating my in-person visits, hugs are tight, and we engage as if I hadn’t been away. In those moments, I have demonstrated that time with them is about them, not me.
To better the relationship, let perceived control go, ask others what they want, and follow-through to support it.Michael Cannon, a learning