With each passing day, our children grow up in seemingly small ways. Then we blink and they are adults getting married and setting up homes of their own. Where the time went, we’ll never know, but I assume it’s in the daily living of chores and school and family fun.

So, when our children leave the nest, marry, and begin their own family traditions, how do we keep the family unit whole? How do we include them, if they are miles away? Or just busy building their own lives?

This has been our question for the last few years, so Spouse and I brainstormed ways we already accomplish this, and how we want to add to it in the future. 

There’s always the telephone. For some of our children, we talk almost daily, depending on the need, the news, and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We try to keep them updated on the doings and goings-on of the younger siblings. Give them Spouse’s and my travel agenda. Let them know they are missed and we’d love to see them. Just basically keep them in the loop, so they still feel a part of our core unit.

We also use email to keep everyone updated. I’ll shoot out an email to those far away, or to the whole family – letting them know events and dates to put on their calendars. Sometimes I’ll send out quotes – funny or deep – and my comments on them. And we use social networking to update everyone on events, to see pictures of the latest happenings, to keep in touch. These pages are closed to the public, but are open to our family. We also play Scrabble® and Words with Friends® on our iPhones. It keeps life fun and entertaining, and helps them feel more connected.

Sometimes I’ll send a care package of things I think they might like, just as an encouragement or pick-me-up. If I see a cooking magazine, I might send it to our new bride for dishes she might like to try. Or while shopping at thrift stores, I might run across a book from a series I know one child enjoys, so I’ll pick it up for a song and run it to the post office. 

We send out evites to the family – for upcoming family dinners, or birthday celebrations. We send out birthday lists, then chat behind their backs about who’s getting what for whom. With a mad rash of birthdays from August through December, we stay pretty busy discussing, buying, wrapping and celebrating!

When it comes right down to it, what we’re doing is stopping life long enough to let our older children know they are still important to us. That we still care very deeply for them, and want them in our lives in whatever way we can make it work.

Then, there’s always hopping in the car or on an airplane for some good ol’ face-to-face time. And sometimes that’s exactly what we need.

Mark and Kym Wright have been married for 32 years. He still flies and computes, and she still sews and writes. And he’s building her a greenhouse to make room for another of her passions. They have also encouraged their eight children to find and pursue their own hobbies. Visit her at: www.KymWright.com and www.The-Mothers-Heart.com

Publication date: January 15, 2013