When divorced parents live far apart, it’s common for children to live full-time and attend school under the care and custody of just one parent. Long-distance parenting arrangements often include spending the summer with the non-custodial parent or alternating holidays. These arrangements may also make provisions for staying in touch with children remotely. This year, traveling might be complicated or limited due to current COVID-19 precautions.
It is very likely that there will be extended periods of time that you are unable to visit with your child, but there are a lot of ways you can still stay connected while they are staying with the other parent. The rules of long-distance parenting can be complicated, but consistency and effort go a long way in supporting your child’s emotional well-being.
Stay Connected Over Long Distance
In addition to texts, emails, and phone calls, there are many platforms and apps you can easily use to connect with your kids. For video calls, use Skype, Google Duo, FaceTime or Zoom. Use Voxer to send text and voice messages and Marco Polo to send videos back and forth.
Set up a regular schedule for checking in with your kids that works for both you and your ex. On a specific night make time for a video chat or check in via text. For younger children you may read a bedtime story together or play a game. With older children who have their own mobile device, there’s more flexibility regarding how and when you can contact them.
Make the Effort
The long-distance parent will have to make most of the effort to initiate communication and connection. Promote meaningful interactions by staying informed about your child’s schoolwork, activities, and friends. Know who the important adults in your child’s life are (including teachers, parents of friends, extended family or neighbors). Focus on listening instead of lecturing. It can be helpful to have a plan for the conversation before you call. That way you don’t end up grilling your kid with questions, making the conversation one-sided. Talk to them about what they are doing and what they are interested in.
Working With Your Ex
The greatest gift you can give your child is no drama. Creating tension with the other parent will make your child feel like they are being pulled back and forth between you. Children should never feel as though they need to pick a side. These tips can help:
- Avoid communicating with your ex through your child.
- Don’t gossip about your ex to your child.
- Make it clear for your child that you think it’s important for them to stay in contact with the other parent.
- Try to be respectful of the other parent’s house rules and guidelines.
Even if there are negative emotions surrounding the circumstances of your divorce, set them aside and focus on a common goal; the happiness and well-being of your child.
Contact Simon Law Group, PLLC at (480) 568-1141 for more information about long-distance parenting arrangements. Whether your children are across the state, or the country, we can help you find the best solutions for your family.