Keeping the Family Zoom Connection Alive
When the rest of the kinfolk have lost interest
A son wants to keep the family Zoom connection alive, especially for his aging parents, but his siblings and their kids have lost interest. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson advises in “Ask Amy.”
I’m the youngest of three siblings. My two brothers live a couple of states away from our parents, who are in their 80s. I live the farthest away, on the opposite coast.
At the beginning of the pandemic, like most families, we connected on Zoom. There were tech hurdles for my parents, but they navigated them as best they could. A couple of times we played games, had virtual parties, or watched funny cartoon clips, but the relatively boring meetings where we exchange small talk seem to be the most popular.
For my rapidly aging parents, I think these one-hour monthly meetings are a lifeline. It’s like magic to them to see us all on their laptop.
However, also like most families, the desire to continue this has diminished, especially as people are doing more things in person. But we still live very far apart, and I’m increasingly frustrated and sad that they’re unable or unwilling to show up.
I’m aware that our parents will not be around forever, and I know that they really do enjoy these Zoom calls. Clearly, I do, too!
I’ve invested a lot in making these events happen. I purchased a paid plan so that we can go as long as needed. I host them at a time that’s not ideal for me (three hours ahead) but that seems to work best for the rest of the group, and I send out reminders with links to join and a funny image each month. I’ve also made slideshows and custom games for the virtual meetings.
This diminished desire is understandable among my brothers’ kids, who are in their late 20s. My son is 12 and I want him to learn that you show up for family. I also want to see my family as much as I can, and for my son to see them as well.
Any advice for how to manage my feelings and/or make these Zoom meetings more attractive to my family?
– Seeking Family Connection
I well remember those first Zoom cocktail parties in the early days of the pandemic; virtual connection opened up so many possibilities – and then our human tendency toward tedium set in.
I applaud your efforts to set up these meetings, and to keep them going. I assume other families are experiencing the dynamic you describe.
I suggest contacting both of your brothers to express your concerns regarding these virtual meetings.
One idea would be for each of you three to rotate through “hosting” the meeting each month – this would give your brothers more ownership in the process, making them more likely to show up and to encourage their children to join (you would still send out the all-important link).
I hope readers will offer their own suggestions.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from a family Zoom connection to dark family secrets and DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.
©2023 by Amy Dickinson