The distance can be tough for divorced parents and their children. It might seem impossible to maintain strong long-distance bonds with children after divorce when you’re so many miles away. You have to make sure what precious little time you do have with your children is quality. Your time together should be mostly one-on-one, and try and keep the focus on your children, their lives, and feelings.
Even if a parent has a regular phone time scheduled, mom or dad can still call outside of those scheduled times. A non-custodial parent can also send postcards, emails, texts, and use social media to stay in contact with their children. Any contact with the children of a divorce should maintain a positive tone such as about specific events in a child’s life, like a test or a sporting event. These little gestures will remind a child that their parent loves them, and they’ll feel closer thanks to the communication.
Here are some tips to maintain long-distance bonds with children after a divorce when you live miles away from them.
Work With The Custodial Parent
It’s extremely important to work with the custodial parent to maintain strong bonds with your children, although you don’t enjoy communicating with each other. Both parents must agree on the importance of having their children maintain good relationships with both parents after the divorce. The last thing you want is one parent who isn’t committed to making it work.
If the other parent keeps you updated about medical appointments, competitions, important milestones for your kids and their day-to-day activities, you’ll be able to talk to your kids about it, helping you to stay connected to them even if you’re away from them.
It will also help if the other parent supports your children in planning activities with you, calling you outside of the planned calling time, and sharing the little things in their lives with you so you can strengthen your relationship.
Create A Long-Distance Parenting Plan
If you’re doing long-distance parenting after divorce, you often need to plan your children’s schedule and expenses in advance since they have to travel. The plan should cover:
- Their transportation to and from your home
- Who will travel with young children
- How long and when they will stay with the long-distance parent
- Who will pay for their travel expenses.
A long-distance parenting plan will also cover when and how the long-distance parent can contact the children to maintain their relationship.
However, keep in mind that long-distance parenting plans can change as your children grow up and their needs change. Older children can find the original co-parenting arrangements too restrictive. As a result, many parents often have to make a change to the original parenting plan. Make sure that your parenting plan is age-appropriate and can adapt to the needs of your kids at their age.
When you create a long-distance parenting plan with your co-parent, you need to be sure that you’ll still be able to maintain healthy and regular communication with your kids with reasonable visitation to your home.
Components Of A Long-Distance Parenting Plan
It should be clear on how long and how frequently your children will visit you. Provide for any special arrangements during vacations, special events, and holidays.
You may also want to include how frequently the custodial parent should contact you. Note any ground rules for respectful communication between the two of you in your co-parenting arrangement. Write down every key aspect of decision making you and your ex should make together as parents. Include current contact information between parents. This can foster strong family relationships between you and your children while maintaining open communication channels with your co-parent.
Parenting plans can also clearly state that the custodial parent should keep you updated on important details about the children and provide information about their activities, friends, teachers, and school performance.
The long-distance parenting plan is an important document that protects your rights to be a part of your kids’ lives. This is especially important since it’s harder to stay in touch when you live a distance away. This will define the rules of your co-parenting relationship so you get to see and talk to your children.
Schedule a regular time for a video chat or phone call with your children. Use Skype, Zoom, or Facetime Ask them what’s the best way they feel you can stay in touch with them. Having structure can help your kids get used to connecting with you. Both of you will know the next time when you can talk to each other. Stick to these scheduled calls and chats as much as possible. to provide that consistency to your children even when you are away from them.
If your ex finds a new partner after the divorce, that may make you feel unimportant or replaced. This can be more apparent if your children are close with the new partner. However, you should not give up and remain in regular contact with your child to maintain your family relationship. They can still feel close to you.
Don’t just rely on regular calls and video chats as a long-distance parent. You can surprise your kids with thoughtful gifts on special events or record videos for them to watch later. This reminds your kids that you’re always thinking about them even if you don’t see them every day, which will reassure them of your love.
You can agree to send each other one TikTok video about a new thing you’re doing every week. If you’re going on a road trip or traveling abroad, take photos or videos to send them. Ship a souvenir if it makes sense. You can make it a tradition to send them a T-shirt or souvenir with the name of the destination, or collect hotel shampoos and soaps for them to use during camps and sleepovers. Form new traditions with them as that can strengthen your relationships.
Sometimes parents can feel like they have to shower kids with expensive gifts to compensate for the time away. Avoid doing so as your children may start to expect gifts each time you see them.
Keep Track Of The Details Of Your Children’s Lives
Write down what the other parent tells you about your children’s lives. This allows you to ask your kids about it or quickly get up to speed about what they’re sharing with you. This can show you’re more engaged, care about what’s happening in your children’s lives and love them even if you don’t have as much time with your children.
Follow your child on social media. Be sure to sign up for email lists for their school, sports team, or clubs so you can consistently get new information updates.
Your child may be comfortable if you connect with them on the Find Friends app so you can see where they are. If they have concerts or events with a live stream broadcast, you can watch it on the day and send them messages about it immediately after, as if you were there.
You Don’t Have To Talk All The Time
Even if there isn’t anything to talk about, being on video chat with your kids and doing things together can be a good way to bond. You might not be able to casually sit next to your children at home or invite them out as a long-distance parent to stay close to them. A video chat can be an alternative.
Sometimes you may have something to talk about, sometimes you don’t, and a one-way conversation might be awkward. Knowing you’re spending time together can be enough to show you love them and maintain long-distance bonds with children after divorce.
Let Them Know You’re Available
Let your children know they can call you to chat when they’re bored or waitin. Make it a point to pick up their calls when you can. This can create an expectation that they can talk to you anytime both of you are free, although they don’t have a particular reason to want to talk to you at the moment. This can create stronger relationships and close family bonds between both of you.
Maintaining Long-Distance Bonds With Children After Divorce
Long-distance parents should find out what their children’s interests are and try to engage with them. They should also get to know their children’s school friends and friends’ parents. This is not just a way to be more involved in the children’s lives. It will also increase the likelihood that those friends would be allowed to accompany the children on outings with non-custodial parents. With these tips you can connect to your children although you had to move away from them or the other way round.
If parents have to go to court to have a judge make a decision about the schedule for child custody and visitation after the divorce, the judge will determine what would be in the best interests of the child. However, it is not always necessary to go to court. Parents who are negotiating a custody agreement can also use the child’s best interests as their criteria. Even if one parent does not move away, the child custody schedule may need modification over time as children get older and their needs change. You may need to contact an attorney to iron out the details and protect your interests during divorce.
If you need help, the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch help you prepare your legal case to protect your rights to be a part of your children’s lives as a long-distance parent.
Contact us today for a no-cost case review.