Distant Families: Ways to Stay in Touch

We love our children and we want to spend as much time with them as possible. But, reality is many kids are forced to be separated from their parents for reasons such as divorce, business travel, military deployment and more. This separation may be physical, but it doesn’t have to be overly emotional. Today we’ll explore some simple ways parents can strengthen and maintain the connection with their child when away.

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Parent Savers
Distant Families: Ways to Stay in Touch
Episode 131, Feb 6th, 2016


Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.

[Theme Music]

NANCY FAGAN: The reality of today’s world is that: “There are many reasons for parents or caregivers and children to be separated.” Whether it’s through military deployment, divorce, business travel or other reasons – a separation maybe physical but it doesn’t have to be emotional.

I’m Nancy Fagan, a family relationship expert. Today, we’re talking about: “Ways to strengthen and maintain the connection between parents and an away child.” This is Parent Savers.

[Intro/Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Welcome back everybody to Parent Savers, broadcasting from the Birth Education Center of San Diego. Parent Savers is your online, on the go support group for parents with infants and toddlers. I’m your host, Johner Riehl.

Are you member of the Parent Savers Club? Our members get bonus content after each show, transcripts, and special discounts from our partners. Visit our website at www.NewMommyMedia.com for more information. That’s also where you’ll see links to download our Parent Savers apps, so you can listen to all of our episodes wherever you go.

Sunny, our head mommy at New Mommy Media is here and she’s got some info on how you can become involved with our podcasts.

SUNNY GAULT: Okay, so we love for our listeners to get involve with the show. We believe this is your show and you should have some fun with it whenever you can. So we have some segments that you guys can participate in. Everything is on our website but I’ll highlight a few right now.

So for Parent Savers, we have a whole team of experts that you can ask parenting questions to. So if you have an issue or something’s going on with your infant or toddler and you just want to ask somebody about it, it doesn’t have to be necessarily medical advice. It could be anything from potty-training stuff or why is my child beating up on my other child – whatever the case maybe.

You can certainly contact us and we would reach out to our experts. We’ll get your question answered and then we’ll play that on the future episode so other parents can benefit from it.

We also have a segment called: “Our Parenting Oops.” That’s where we share our funny stories of crazy, silly stuff we’ve done as parents where afterwards we’re like: “What just happened? What did I do there? What did my child do?”

JOHNER RIEHL: That happens every day.

SUNNY GAULT: Every day, right? So everyone should be submitting for this segment.

JOHNER RIEHL: The problem is that we forget them, right? That’s how we survive.

SUNNY GAULT: Right, exactly.

JOHNER RIEHL: That’s why you got a call-in remember

SUNNY GAULT: Then I was looking for the apps that you guys use with your infants and toddlers and what we like to review apps, talk about apps. So if you want to submit for any of those or if you just want to check out all the different ways you can participate in Parent Savers, go to www.NewMommyMedia.com.

If you want to actually submit, you’ll go to the contact link and you can kind of type it out – your response, your question; whatever it might be. If you actually want to use your own voice to tell your own story or ask your own question yourself, you can call our voicemail which is 619-866-4775. No one will pick up, it will go straight to voice mail and then that way, I can just kind of take that little snippet and include it in the future episodes. So you’ll become internet famous after being on Parent Savers.

JOHNER RIEHL: We’ve got a call at the hotline again. Hotline is doing good, right? You know the Drake Song?

SUNNY GAULT: A hotline means someone’s going to pickup I think.

JOHNER RIEHL: They got it and upload.

SUNNY GAULT: Some people don’t like to talk to people.

JOHNER RIEHL: Nobody likes to talk to people.

SUNNY GAULT: We’re in an informational age where we just want to type it out.

JOHNER RIEHL: All right, yes. So definitely, call that number and join us. Thanks Sunny.


JOHNER RIEHL: Today, we’re going to talk about: “Distant Parenting” with Nancy Fagan from Fairy Good Heart LLC. Did I get that right?

NANCY FAGAN: You sure did.

JOHNER RIEHL: I got the LLC in. I remember.


JOHNER RIEHL: So welcome.

NANCY FAGAN: Thank you.

JOHNER RIEHL: So I’m Johner. I have three boys, an eight year old, a six year old and a four year old. We live here in San Diego. By day, I’m a PR guy. On the weekends, whenever Sunny let’s me

SUNNY GAULT: Parent Savers extraordinaire.

JOHNER RIEHL: I’m the Parent Savers – exactly.

SUNNY GAULT: He’s in everything.

NANCY FAGAN: It sounds like: “Hi.” I was thinking superman.


NANCY FAGAN: It’s a red cape in case you’re wondering.

SUNNY GAULT: It is. It is.

JOHNER RIEHL: We just heard from Sunny that say: “How many kids do you have now?”

SUNNY GAULT: Four and done. I know you do that three and done.

JOHNER RIEHL: That’s right. I’m done.

SUNNY GAULT: I do four and done.

JOHNER RIEHL: It’s kind of your favorite.

SUNNY GAULT: I’m done. It’s my fifth child.

NANCY FAGAN: I did one and done and he’s my favorite child. I love him more than anybody.


NANCY FAGAN: Well, any child that I have.

JOHNER RIEHL: Right. Nancy has one. So welcome Nancy.

NANCY FAGAN: Thank you.
[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: All right, let’s take a closer look at an app that we think might be good for your family. Today we’re looking at an app called: “Science Museum Splash.” It’s a $ 0.99 available on the App Store for IOS. It’s from GR/DD Limited and I’m sure that stands for something. I don’t know what it is. But if you look it on the app store, just look for the GR/DD. So in an app icon says like: “SCM Splash.”

So what this game is, it’s like a virtual bath tub and you can kind of hear it. So kids can like push the spigot, fill their bath tub and tilt your phone or iPad and the water splashes around. You can add funny little objects like add a rubber ducky. Add a little ball. Add a boat, see what floats. Then there are some stuff that sink. There’s an anchor. There’s a wrench and they sink. Then they’re all in there. You can interact with them in the water.

SUNNY GAULT: So what’s the goal? What are you trying to do?

JOHNER RIEHL: So here’s the thing. The goal for these apps for young kids

SUNNY GAULT: It is to entertain your kids.

JOHNER RIEHL: It’s to entertain your kid, right? So the goal is like there is no goal which is the hardest thing to understand. Especially for older kids because you’re like: “What?” But little kids just want them to play around.


JOHNER RIEHL: The thinking in the educational “science behind this” is that kids learn through play. So they’re going to learn different things from this app. They’ll learn a little bit about how water works. They’ll learn about drains sort of fitting a bunch of things in, cleaning up after themselves. But they’ll learn a little about some objects that floats and some objects that don’t.

There’s some heavy stuff. There’s some light stuff. They can customize it a little bit. But it really is a sand box if you will for them to just – there is no winner. It’s just sort of playing and having fun. I’m going to turn it off so we don’t hear that sonar depth charge anymore.


JOHNER RIEHL: What’s your reaction?

SUNNY GAULT: That’s a deep bath tub. You got sonar going on. Holy cow!

JOHNER RIEHL: I mean that’s kind of the fun. For me, playing around with it and playing around with Xylar is like he really likes the noises.

SUNNY GAULT: When it hop it in the tub, so yes.

JOHNER RIEHL: To clip in and you can keep making the boingy noises. So that’s just another idea for an app. There’s a mild educational value. You’re not hitting kids over the head with like do six plus seven math right now.


JOHNER RIEHL: Sort of exploring the world in their bath tub. My only concern is that:”You get them so excited about playing with the phone in the bath tub – splash in real life.”

SUNNY GAULT: You want to take the phone in the bath tub.


SUNNY GAULT: You’re like: “No.”

JOHNER RIEHL: That’s a whole other layer of parenting decisions to think about.

SUNNY GAULT: That is true.

JOHNER RIEHL: So it’s Science Museum Splash. It’s $0.99 GR/DD Limited and I think it’s kind of cool. Your family might want to check it out. We’ll put a link on the website.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: So we’re talking about distant parenting. So I think let’s frame exactly what we’re kind of talking about with distant parenting. Then talk about why that might happen.

NANCY FAGAN: Well, I’m glad you asked that because distant parenting, there are two kinds actually. But the one we’re talking about today which is: “When parents are physically gone and emotionally available.”


NANCY FAGAN: The other kind and these are called the ambiguous loses because when somebody is away, you grieve them. You miss them. The other kind is where they’re physically present but emotionally absent. So in the case of someone who is ill, physically ill or mentally ill, somebody has an addiction and they’re not always present.

A lot of what we’re talking about today, you can do at home too when you’re feeling up to it. It doesn’t have to be all the time. So I’m going to be giving lot of tips about that.

JOHNER RIEHL: That’s great. So yes and what we really are focusing on is physically absent but emotionally present.

NANCY FAGAN: Right, absolutely.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes. So what are some reasons why people might be physically absent?
NANCY FAGAN: Hospitalization is one.

All the other reasons we mentioned:

• Any kind of physical separation
• Anything in the military whether a spouse is going or a parent is going off, whether it’s to war or even training – six week training.

My cousin, her husband, he is away. He is a drill sergeant of all things. So he’s away for sometimes 24 hours at a time and they have a brand new baby. So they’re dealing with a lot of that.
• Divorce, sometimes a divorce will take one parent or the other far distance away.
• Sometimes it’s simply moving the children out of the neighborhood. So it can be five miles away across town. It could be three thousand miles across the country or even in another country.
• Business travel is another one.
• Incarceration is a big one.
There are a lot of incarcerated parents and being able to have a relationship and stay connected is absolutely critical.


NANCY FAGAN: There are a lot of studies done and it’s more about it’s not necessarily that they’re in person. But if they’re in prison and it’s about the visitation, in the visitation room – that keeps them connected or not connected and keeps them as a family member in the role that they were in before.


NANCY FAGAN: Sometimes prisons are set up to have physical contact, other times, they are not. I can go into a lot of detail on that. But they’re all kinds of reasons.

JOHNER RIEHL: You could do a whole episode on that.

NANCY FAGAN: I know. I really can.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes. So there are a lot of reasons why families may be apart. So you sort of got interested in this through Fairy Good Heart from the divorce perspective?

NANCY FAGAN: Yes, I had a divorce mediation firm in town. It was a great firm. We helped a lot of people. But the parents always came to me and they always asked me: “How can I tell my children about the divorce? How can I help them process the emotions?”

They wanted the words. I thought: “Boy! This is something that’s really missing. I want to help the children in this and help the family stay connected.” When parents really did put themselves to the side and put the children first, say we’re able to stay connected.

JOHNER RIEHL: That seems like something that so easy to say but it must be so hard.


JOHNER RIEHL: It’s easy to say, right?


JOHNER RIEHL: But it must be so hard.

NANCY FAGAN: But you know what? I haven’t said the majority; the people who came on mediation were able to work as cool parents effectively.

JOHNER RIEHL: That’s great.

NANCY FAGAN: You hear about the bad ones but they’re not the majority.

JOHNER RIEHL: That’s good to hear.

NANCY FAGAN: Yes, that really is. There’s other. We think a lot of times that the parents are apart because they are the reason that there is a separation. But there is also a category that I called: “The developmental reasons.” These are reasons that the children are apart from the parent because of the developmental stages the children are going through.

So for instance, starting preschool, starting kindergarten, going away to grandparents or another relatives for the night, even staying the night at a friend’s house – there’s a separation there. Developmentally, they’re not ready for it a lot of times. So you can prepare for it in advance.

JOHNER RIEHL: Okay. So I think that we definitely want to get to some tips.

NANCY FAGAN: The most important thing to remember about distance parenting is we have to maintain a sense of connectedness. You need to do it frequently enough and you have to do it when you say you’re going to do it so the child keeps that trust with you. It’s just a way to help you build strong parent-child relationships. But it’s absolutely critical to do.

JOHNER RIEHL: I think about that. So the one that the category that we would fall in here would be: “Business travel.” So I ever so often have to go.

JOHNER RIEHL: I have to take a trip and maybe the reason I think I take a 10 day business trip.

NANCY FAGAN: But you have a four-year old right?

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes. It’s eight, six and a four.

NANCY FAGAN: Right. That’s really hard with the younger ones.

JOHNER RIEHL: So my coping mechanism seems to be that: “They’re fine and they don’t need me. They’ll miss me.”


JOHNER RIEHL: In my own world right? There probably is a little bit of denial because

NANCY FAGAN: Mom might be more important then.

JOHNER RIEHL: Right. Those times to like to set a time and to keep your promises about when are we going to – hey! Well, can we do a FaceTime? How can we connect?

NANCY FAGAN: Right. A lot of times it’s hard for the parent who’s away because they don’t know what to do and they’re outside of their routine.


NANCY FAGAN: At today’s world, there are so many apps and just different devices and technology. We’ll get into that a lot more in detail that makes it easier. That’s why this talk is important today because it’s going to teach people some skills that they don’t have.

The more connected you are, you’re going to feel better as a parent. You’re going to know that your role is here at home when you are a part or when you return home.

JOHNER RIEHL: So as adults, it’s all saying that I just kind of feel like: “The resilient that we better like I don’t want to remind them that I’m gone.”

NANCY FAGAN: They know you’re gone.

JOHNER RIEHL: I mean is that a common way for adults to deal with it as opposed to like kids?

NANCY FAGAN: It absolutely is.


NANCY FAGAN: There are two kinds of thinking. Children usually between ages of 11 and 16, I believe those are the dates. That is when children start to develop more of the adult mind and they are able to think more abstractly like we do. Prior to that, children who are less mature and then also children with disabilities are – they are able to think other than concrete thinking.

If you think of a concrete block, that’s what concrete thinking is. It’s somebody who thinks in facts here and now. My little precious granddaughter, here’s an example. She’s four years old and her mom sent me a video the other day. She had her suitcase out. She said: “What are you doing Nikka?”

When she said: “I’m packing for Great Wolf Lodge at Christmas time.” So her thinking was: “If I pull out my suitcase – that means I get to see grandma and grandpa again.” That’s concrete thinking that I able to say: “Okay, here’s a calendar. Christmas is still ways away.” Say: “You have to realize that you do not think like your children think.”

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes, that’s true. Yes and the four year old as you’d mentioned like that’s the one you brought up with me taking that trip.

NANCY FAGAN: Absolutely.

JOHNER RIEHL: Is it my birthday yet? Is it Halloween? Yes, they don’t have, they just know concrete.

NANCY FAGAN: That’s it.

JOHNER RIEHL: What’s today, what’s right in for them.

NANCY FAGAN: I do not equate children to dogs. But the dog will sit and wait for you. They know your schedule. They know about when you’re going to come home because the light changes and different things happen. Maybe somebody comes home before you do. But they know that you’re going to come home eventually and they sit and wait.

That’s kind of the mindset of a young child. They look at the here and now. So when you’re gone for 10 days, they don’t understand it at all.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes. If you think about it, a lot in their life, they’re just told where to go and what to do. Look! I’m in the middle of a store now.


NANCY FAGAN: That’s it. That’s it.

JOHNER RIEHL: So the more routine and regular and keep your promise with them, the better.

NANCY FAGAN: You have to keep the promise. But also when you say you’re going to communicate, make sure it’s a time that’s going to work for you. If you’re maybe out of town and you’re attending a conference or something that’s work-related.

If you know that 10:00 AM in the morning is a bad time for you, do not tell them you’re going to talk to them at 10:00 AM on Saturday because you’re going to tell them: “One excuse after the other.” That breaks the trust. The most critical bonding that you have with a parent is that trust.

JOHNER RIEHL: Well, that’s great. I think I do want to dive into the tips. So let’s take a quick break and then in the second part, we’ll dig into a ton of tips. We’ve got a lot of cool tips, these adorable stuffies from Fairy Good Heart right here that will have on the website and you can see it on her website. So we’ll be right back.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Welcome back here at Parent Savers. Today we’re talking about: “Distant Parenting” with Nancy Fagan from Fairy Good Heart LLC. So let’s dive into some tips. We sort of touched on a little bit with FaceTime and communicating but let’s talk about ways for a distant parent to stay connected with their away child.

NANCY FAGAN: Okay, I want you to think of it as a three-prong approach. For an instance, if you’re going to be going away, we either know about it in advance or it comes up all of a sudden. If it comes up all of a sudden, you can’t do a lot of planning. However, if you know you’re going to be out, you want to do things, make plans before you leave. You want to do other activities when the parent is away – when you’re away as a parent.

Then especially for military for long departures, work related – the third part is about returning. You want to do things when you return. So for instance, before you leave, you want to talk to the kid about the trip. You want to explain where you’re going and why. If you need to pull out a map, it can also be educational. But don’t make it sound like you’re a teacher, they’re kind of really tune out.

You want to say how much you’re going to miss them. Now if they’re very young and that’s why the stuffed animal works – they talk through their stuffed animals. So try to communicate with them directly like you do an adult. It doesn’t work because they communicate through play instead of conversation.

So you might pick up one of their favorite stuffed animals and say: “Do you know that your stuffed animal” what’s your four year old stuffed animal?

JOHNER RIEHL: We’ll say Captain Barnacles.

NANCY FAGAN: Okay, Captain Barnacles.

JOHNER RIEHL: He’s an Octonauts guy.


NANCY FAGAN: I don’t even know what that is. But you have to tell me the name again.

JOHNER RIEHL: Captain Barnacles.

NANCY FAGAN: Captain Barnacles, okay. So you want to take Captain Barnacles and say do a little play therapy in a not real play therapy. But you know talk through it. Do you think Captain Barnacles is going to miss his daddy when he goes on a trip?


NANCY FAGAN: He’ll be very honest. He’ll be a lot more honest in his communication. He will if you’re asking him because he doesn’t realize that’s because his brain isn’t developed yet.


NANCY FAGAN: That he’s actually talking about his real feelings. So if he says: “I cry myself every single night.” Or Captain

JOHNER RIEHL: Captain Barnacles.

NANCY FAGAN: Can you give me an easier name?

JOHNER RIEHL: Kwazii? Someone says we can go with Kwazii.



NANCY FAGAN: Let’s go with Peso. I can do with Peso. Now I think Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite. Peso, so you want to say – take his Captain Barnacles and maybe talk to Peso say: “Do you realize that when Captain Barnacles is away, he misses you?”


NANCY FAGAN: So you want to talk through the stuffed animals about his emotion. The child will have no idea you’re talking about him.

JOHNER RIEHL: It’s a fascinating tip. I can’t wait to try that. Even though I’m not leaving anywhere like to really tap into

NANCY FAGAN: A little side tip you can do it with adults too. They don’t really realize what they’re doing and you can always tell if somebody’s telling the truth by their body language because 93% is either a tone of voice or the body language. So you if you want to see if a kid is lying especially, look at their waist down. That gives it away.

If they’re shuffling their feet or tapping or you see their fist down below their waist and they’re clinching they’re fist that they’re saying: “I didn’t do it mom. I didn’t do it mom.” You know that they’re lying. But anyway, that’s depressing a little bit.

JOHNER RIEHL: So preparing the kids is explaining right?

NANCY FAGAN: Yes, you want to explain.

JOHNER RIEHL: Even it seems like it’s really not sinking in, you’re either explaining through role-playing. It totally helps up the state.

NANCY FAGAN: It really does. So you want to take two of his stuffed animals. You might even ask him or a daughter: “Who’s your strong stuffed animal? Who is the mightiest stuffed animal?” You’ll say: “Who’s the baby? Who’s your little girl? Who’s their family?” Have them gather them around and talk through the adult and say: “Well, do you know in a Captain Barnacles is saying – I’m going to be going away trip to LA for 10 days.”

The little Pedro, I know that’s a wrong name. I’m sorry. Peso, money! Okay Peso. You know what can little Peso do? What do you think he does to feel better? The kid might say: “Well, he doesn’t know what to do better – you know to make him feel better.”

You might say: “Well, how about if he hangs on to Mr. Barnacles and sing him the lullaby that daddy sings him?” So you do – you kind of teach them that way through the stuffed animal and then they will do it. Everything sings and you hear that they’re like a sponge and they really are.

JOHNER RIEHL: So that’s kind of a tip for a planned trip.


JOHNER RIEHL: But that might also in a divorce situation too.

NANCY FAGAN: Absolutely.

JOHNER RIEHL: Just explaining the timing of what’s coming up.

NANCY FAGAN: You really need to.


NANCY FAGAN: You need to have a calendar. That’s one of the things you want to do. If its divorce, you can do something especially if it’s a high conflict family or something called: www.ourfamilywizard.com. You can input everything there. If it’s high conflict, everything is saved – nothing will be deleted. The court can tell you that you need to do it. You can put it in your mediation agreements.

You log on there, you type in. You put school work, teacher’s name, hospital information; you have a calendar, visitations and time. All communication can be done through there.

So if it gets to the point where there a lot of lies going on or a lot of fighting, you can’t delete it that way because the attorney is going to look at it, the judge can look at it. You have certain key people on your team or you can use it on a family that’s not a high-conflict just to manage everything. Medical records, everything are kept there.

JOHNER RIEHL: All right, that was the first prong – was the preparation, right?


JOHNER RIEHL: Okay and the second prong?

NANCY FAGAN: The second one is it while you’re gone; there are a lot of different things that you can do. It’s easy to forget. So you have to set an alarm on your phone or something, a reminder so that you follow-through.

JOHNER RIEHL: This I think is where a lot of people are looking for too.


JOHNER RIEHL: What can you do when you’re gone?

NANCY FAGAN: There are so many different things. You can leave notes ahead of time. Maybe even hand them to your spouse if it’s not divorce and have them put them maybe under the child’s pillow every single night or in the lunch pail. If it’s in your writing, you might even draw funny pictures that are little secret things between the parent and the child.

Like with my ex-husband, when we went through divorce, he’d always make little funny pictures and notes. We were not high-conflict. It was an ideal divorce. But it was just little things like: “Wank, wank.” Little words typed out. He’s an engineer, so he did little drawings. It was really cute and it meant so much to my son – so little things like that.

So you can give them if it’s not divorce or even if it’s a friendly divorce, you can give them little notes like that so that when they’re away, they have something.


NANCY FAGAN: You can hide notes in the suitcase before they leave. Have the child sit down and draw special little note and say: “Okay, I’m going to another room. Now stick the little note in there and then I’ll find it tonight. I have to look for it.” The children were so silly. They put it like on the bottom of the suitcase or in a sleeve or something. You might have to search for it actually. Then it gives them a real kick away.

I bet you’ll know that it meant so much. If you can take a picture of yourself holding that note and send it to them, it means so much to them. With older kids, if you’re going somewhere, you can work with Map Quest or any of the other travel – what is that? Advisor? I think it’s called

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes, Trip Advisor.

NANCY FAGAN: Trip Advisor.


NANCY FAGAN: Say: “Hey. I’m going to be staying – baby, I’m going to Singapore and I’m staying at this hotel called the G Hotel.” You know what kind of food, what do you recommend going to?

So then the kid tells you: “Okay, go down the street to this and it’s fresh fish or whatever.” Snap a picture. I ate in the place. I really liked it. It was a great suggestion. So they’re involved. They’re taking your advice.


NANCY FAGAN: They love it. You’ve got to say: “I picked up the napkin from this place or I’m bringing home the chopsticks.” I’m saving this shell for you – whatever it is.

JOHNER RIEHL: That’s cute.

NANCY FAGAN: They have this kind of fruit, it’s called Durian. I know this from experience. It’s a nastiest, tastiest fruit but they loved it over there.

In Singapore, it’s very strong. I won’t go into detail on that. But you can say: “Here’s an app, a smell app.” You can send it to them on the durian and they will smell it. They’ll say: “My gosh! It’s a horrible smell. It’s the worst thing that you can ever-ever imagine. It’s nasty.”

JOHNER RIEHL: What’s the smell app? I need to know that too.

SUNNY GAULT: Yes, what is the smell app?

NANCY FAGAN: Well, I don’t know. I’m just making a bunch. I’m sure that there is.

SUNNY GAULT: Well, you know smell a vision did not work. So I don’t know if the smell app is going to work either.


NANCY FAGAN: I don’t know. There has to be something happen. I’m positive that there is something out there.

JOHNER RIEHL: A million dollar right there. Yes, okay.

NANCY FAGAN: I’m sure it’s out there.

JOHNER RIEHL: That’s cute too.

NANCY FAGAN: Yes. Well, there’s another one that I know that teenage boys like. This one is out there and you can cut it out if it’s not appropriate here. But it’s a Fart a Day. So you can send an e-mail fart of the day to your child. Teenagers love it. Then they send it back to them and it’s all different noises from kaboom kaboom to tweet.

JOHNER RIEHL: Listen. If that’s what it takes

SUNNY GAULT: Is that for teens?

NANCY FAGAN: Yes, it’s for teens.

JOHNER RIEHL: Well, if that’s what it takes.

SUNNY GAULT: I will say because my boys would like that now.


JOHNER RIEHL: Husbands, yes and wives too. Come on.

NANCY FAGAN: So even again with boys – my son, he’s grown now. He’s 26 but he had a little fart machine. If it’s a distance thing, you can use it like: “Okay, when you and mom are going to pick me up at the airport or something, you can stick it in your purse so you can push it – a little sound like she farted.”

He’s used to do so many funny things with that. Always so embarrassing but at a distance, you’re staying connected. He may be coming up with a plan just to be little bit creative because it’s hard to think of ideas.

JOHNER RIEHL: I mean if that’s what it takes to have, to make a connection

NANCY FAGAN: That’s all it is.

JOHNER RIEHL: I mean, right.

NANCY FAGAN: Boys connect with the parent especially father by being goofy. So think of goofy ways. You know just like if you’re at work for the day and maybe you were supposed to be on the day off, you can introduce silly things like that. Sending text and being on Skype all the time.

My son lives in New Zealand right now. He’s going to graduate school and we’ll be on Skype or even FaceTime. We’ll just live it on for hours in the evening while he’s doing his homework and studies and I’m doing whatever I’m doing. Then he’ll say: “Hey mom! Look at this.” He’ll send it to me and I’ll see it instantly.

So I can hear him and we don’t have to think of things to talk about because he’s a guy and he doesn’t talk.

SUNNY GAULT: So it’s kind of like they’re being, they’re right there in the room with you like you would just normally say something to someone. But it doesn’t have to be constant communication, it’s just kind of the device is open. The Skype is open – whatever. Is that kind of how you treat it?

NANCY FAGAN: That’s exactly how we treat it.


JOHNER RIEHL: We can ignore each other just like we do at home.

NANCY FAGAN: That’s it. That’s just it. What way to feel close than to be present but not talk. Okay. So let’s get into technology. When you’re gone, there are some big deals, things that happen in normal kid’s life every day. You have homework. You have chores. You have story time. Those are probably the three biggest and then the activities that they are doing.

For story time, there’s a new one that I just found and it’s called: “Kid Kindoma K-I-N-D-O-M-A.”


NANCY FAGAN: Maybe, ever heard of it? I don’t know. It’s so new to me. I don’t know how to pronounce it. But it’s an iPad app and it lets you, it picked from a library any kind of fairytales and all kinds of classics from the library. So what’s nice about it – it’s not just that you’re just reading to them.

On the screen, on the top right hand corner of the top left hand corner, you can see the parent and you can see the child so that they’re always there. But what’s really neat about this is that: “You can stop anytime you want.” You can stop it for a discussion. But there is another one that I think I like even more.

They’re $10 to $35. You can record your voice so that the child hears your voice reading to them. This is a special one. It has special sensors so that when you’re reading it, the child – the app is able to sense if you flip up the page or not. So the child can’t just flip-and-flip-and-flip.

Let’s say that they flip from the first page to the last page. They’re going to hear your dialogue on each page because you record them individually.


NANCY FAGAN: But that way, if the child is busy looking at a picture gets distracted and comes up and picks up later, there you are reading to them again. You don’t need to be present for that one.

JOHNER RIEHL: That is really cool.

NANCY FAGAN: Another one that is silly. Again for school-age children, you can go to www.jibjab.com. Are you familiar with that?

SUNNY GAULT: Yes, Jib Jab.

NANCY FAGAN: Yes, a lot of people know it for politics. But they have all kinds of funny things on there and they star you or you can make it star your family. You can make somebody; you can make the dog doing a dance and a song. You can do it for anything.

SUNNY GAULT: When the Elf Yourself people do it for not just elves anymore.



SUNNY GAULT: It’s for everything.

NANCY FAGAN: Yes, everything.


NANCY FAGAN: It’s hilarious. You can put your head on Kim Kardashian. You can put your dog’s head on Kim Kardashian and do some kind of dance or dancing with the stars. I don’t know if they have that.

But these are animated cards that you create if you’re not familiar with them. You can put like you said anybody’s pictures in them. Then they’re about a $1 a month. You can do as many as you want. It’s pretty reasonable. So you know

JOHNER RIEHL: So we’ve talked through a lot like FaceTime and Skype and some of these other apps. Do you have some?

NANCY FAGAN: Yes, there is a fun one. This is another new one that I discovered and it’s through Google Hangouts. It’s called: “Scoot and Doodle.” Now this is for your little fashionista or your little artist. You go on there. It’s a face-to-face session so you can see the people and you draw pictures together.

But even better than that, you can do homework. You can put the homework up there and you have five different markers from thin to thick in different colors and you can work on the problem together or if you can ask them: “How are you solving this?” They can solve it and that way, you will see if your kid is just trying to blow hot air or not; a hint if they really not, work it.

Technology makes it easy for you these days. There’s no excuse not to connect just like that Ribbon McIntyre song. But he’s got a phone, why are you contacting me?

JOHNER RIEHL: Now it’s a FaceTime right?

NANCY FAGAN: Yes, FaceTime anything. But it’s a way to get help the parents and children stay connected to absolutely use it. The more you invest in your child in that relationship, the stronger you’re going to be.

JOHNER RIEHL: My kids, the eight year old has an iPad. So he likes to text emojis and he sends the sweetest texts like it’s unbelievable. Dad, I love you and then like 12 emojis. But him being empowered and having thus he can’t text to whoever he wants. But he’s in touch with me and his grandparents in out of state.

NANCY FAGAN: You brought up a really important part, a point. If your child is more lovey-dovey like that, you want to communicate in their style by being lovey-dovey to them. Sending that instead of like: “Here’s King Kong, he’s going to step all over you or Peso or any of those things.”

But if you are a child who connects through goofy things, you want to connect with him in that way. So make sure that you know how each child communicates and communicate in their style because then they’re going to feel loved.

JOHNER RIEHL: So we talked to – at the end of the first part, it’s sort of stealing it but it seemed like communicate was one of the most important things. But the other thing, it seems to be there’s a current theme about staying connected from afar is being very thoughtful.

NANCY FAGAN: Very personalized.

JOHNER RIEHL: It’s not just going to be a spontaneous thing. You need to really plan it and it needs to be important. It needs to – I mean I don’t mean to daunt people that there has to be plans. But it has to be very thoughtful.

NANCY FAGAN: It has to be thoughtful. It has to be a conscious effort, a deliberate effort to make it happen.

JOHNER RIEHL: Deliberate, yes. So that seeming what’s really important. What do you think is the most important thing to remember for folks again in distant parenting?

NANCY FAGAN: I’ve mentioned it earlier. Again, just as a recap, you want to be consistent. You want to be frequent.

JOHNER RIEHL: Consistent.

NANCY FAGAN: You just want to make it a priority. Take even one minute out of your day to send a very quick text. I’m just thinking about you have a great day at school today. I know it’s your test but you’re going to do really well – anything, very simple so that they feel remembered.

JOHNER RIEHL: Thank you so much for joining us. I hoped that answered some questions.

NANCY FAGAN: Thank you.

JOHNER RIEHL: I think there’s enough material here that we could two or three more episodes. So we might have to try to figure out something to do. But this was great. I’m so glad to get to meet you and I’m so glad to get to have this conversation. Thank you.

NANCY FAGAN: Well, thank you. It’s a pleasure being here.

JOHNER RIEHL: Thank you everybody for listening to Parent Savers and for joining us today. If you do want more information, you can go to, it’s www.fairygoodheart.com right?


JOHNER RIEHL: You can also go to www.NewMommyMedia.com www.ParentSavers.com and any of those. We’ll have more info and we will have a link to Nancy’s site. We’ll continue the conversation. After this with a bonus question just for members of our Parent Saver’s Club, so that’s another reason to join the club.

SUNNY GAULT: To join our club.

JOHNER RIEHL: What are we going to talk about? You don’t know because you’re not in the club. All right, for more information about that too, go to the member portion on our website.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: We have an e-mail from one of our listeners.

She says:

“My name is Jamie and she’s from Los Angeles. She’s pregnant with her second child and her first child is almost four.

My husband and I are very concerned because we don’t want our older child to be jealous of the new baby. She’s the first grand baby and has had been the center of attention ever since she was born. So do you have suggestions on how to prepare older child for their rival of her new sibling?”


SUSIE WALTON: Hi Jamie! This is Susie Walton from Indigo Village. In response to your daughter, the four year old and having a new baby being born – the couple of ideas is when the baby is born and she comes to see you the first time after the baby is born, be sure that you are and your partner not holding the baby in that moment so she can come right to you, you can hold her and hug her.

Don’t feel: “I wouldn’t do a big here’s your baby.” She is finally here. Just let whoever is there the grandparent just hold the baby, just check in with her and your four year old.

Also you’d want like maybe have a baby doll for her to give her in that moment. What I’m basically telling you is low key is the new born. Eventually, she’ll like: “The baby or something like that and that’s fine.” The biggest thing is not to give it her all excited and it would be her thing. She should be so excited about the baby. If she’s excited, let her be excited on her own time.

Then in general right now, before the baby comes you want to give her start to do things that can help you out. So you can call: “You’re my assistant. You’re my helper.” But say like things: “Good helper.” Just say: “You’re helper or you’re my assistant.” How about you’re my kitchen assistant and maybe you can help me put dishes in the dishwasher?

Let’s say you have a dog, you are the boss of the dog. So make sure the dog has food. Start giving her responsibilities ASAP. So when your hands are full when baby comes, she’s not going to feel like all of a sudden, you’re making her do this stuff because you don’t want her to be around or you’re too busy for her.

So hopefully that will work for you. Congratulations on Baby Number Two and feel free to call back if you have any other questions.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: That wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to Parent Savers.
Don’t forget to check out our sister shows:
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed
• Twin Talks, for parents of multiples
• Newbies for those going through it for the first time.

This is Parent Savers: “Empowering new parents.”
This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
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