Even under the most amicable circumstances, divorce is a difficult process for everyone involved. When a divorcing couple has children, this painful situation can become that much harder when the children go from living with both their parents to primarily residing with just one of them.
Becoming the non-custodial or minority time-sharing parent means changing from having daily contact with your children to seeing them according to a set schedule. This arrangement can leave the parent feeling distant from their children and uncertain how to meaningfully connect with them during their time together. While this new situation may not permit ongoing contact, by taking certain steps, the minority time-sharing parent can still keep their bond with the children they love.
Find Ways to Connect When You are Apart
While you may not be able to be physically present with your children at all times, there are ways in which you can maintain your connection. For instance, if possible work with your former partner to find times that you can call or Skype with your child. If they are at an appropriate age, you could have a daily text or email telling them you hope they have a good day. If ongoing communication is not feasible, you could set up a monthly service which sends your child a small item to collect. For instance, if your child likes geology, you could have a monthly rock and mineral service send a sample to them. In your absence, your child will have something tangible to remind them of you and it can be a topic of discussion when you see one another.
Make Them Feel at Home
After the divorce, you will most likely be living somewhere different. If possible, bring your child over soon after you move in and let them help you decorate. You could also let them see their room and select special bedding and items for their space. As you are preparing your new home you can use this opportunity to talk about the new situation and assure them that your new residence is also a new home for them. This environment should be a positive setting for your child and a place where they look forward to spending time.
Make Them Feel Included
Creating a new life for yourself may involve living with a new partner who may have children. This new situation can be alienating and intimidating for a child who has been used to sharing their home and life with you and their other parent. Be sensitive to what your child may be feeling about the new people in your life and take time to reassure them about your new home being their space as well. While making an effort to involve your child with your new family will be important, be careful not to neglect the importance of making time to do things on your own independently of the group.
Respect the Other Parent
It is vital that you remain aware that your child’s sense of security following divorce will be largely derived from how you and your former partner treat one another. Setting aside personal differences for the sake of being respectful and cooperative with the other parent is critical to helping your child feel safe and comfortable in their relationship with both of you. By refraining from negative comments, you are making an effort which will support your connection with them.
An important way to maintain your relationship with your child when you are apart is by creating a parenting plan which supports ongoing contact and your relationship. At the Draper Firm, we have experienced family law attorneys who can help you create the right parenting plan for your family. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation. We invite you to learn more about our firm here.