Of all the challenges, change and stress divorce brings, long distance parenting is one of the most painful and difficult to face. And yet, it is a very real experience for countless numbers of divorced families, with limited support available.
Whilst this is written for separated and divorced long-distance parents, many expats living apart from their children have found these tips useful.
Communication is Key
When parents are living together communication is relatively easy, and even if the relationship was bitter at the end, at least you knew you would have the opportunity by proximity to discuss your children. If you see your children daily you know how their day was, what they did at school, when they are sick, who their friends are, what they like to do after school, activities and entertainment they love and hate etc.
When parents separate, this automatic communication changes and often ends. If the parents are hurt, angry, or just not interested in communicating any more the parent who lives away from the children misses out on a lot of information.
After a while the long-distance parent can barely know anything about life for their children. When communication is broken between the parents it can become broken between the child and parent. This can be avoided if both parents make an effort to communicate regularly with each other, especially if the children are young.
6 Tips for Successful Long-Distance Parenting
1, Always Initiate Contact
As the adult it is your responsibility to initiate contact. Don’t sit passively waiting for them to email, message or call you. Keep trying until you get through…. and don’t give up. Don’t take it personally if your child doesn’t respond straight away, has nothing to say and only stays on the phone a few minutes. This is pretty normal for kids and is nothing to do with you.
2, Know What is Going on for Them
Remain interested and involved in the details. Know the names of their teachers, friends and favorite tv shows / video games. Take an interest in homework, these days you can view it online or by sending a picture. Remember involvement is key for relationship building.
3, Keep to your Word
Always initiate regular schedule for your contact and follow it. If you say you will call, call. All relationships are built on trust and predictability, your child needs to be able to trust your word.
4, Avoid Yes & No Questions
One thing we have learnt is, if you ask yes and no questions – you will get yes and no answers. Instead of saying did you have a good day at school? You can ask “what was the best thing that happened in your school today?”
5, Don’t Make them a Messenger
Avoid asking them to relay messages or to give you details on what the other parent is doing. Often when we speak to teenagers they say that one parent asks who the other is dating or how much money they are spending. etc. If they feel awkward they may not want to speak again. It’s natural for us to avoid communication we don’t enjoy.
6, Keep Communication Varied
Use video whenever possible when talking, nearly 60% of our communication is through our body language, so show your interest and love for your child through your facial expressions and hand gestures.
Variety is also great for children and long distance relationships, use text messages, send pictures, emails, e-cards as well as snail mail. Nothing is more exciting than opening a letter or package with your name on it.
DON’T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE WITH YOUR EMAIL BELOW AND GET MORE OF THIS EVERYDAY