It can be difficult to connect with kids long-distance after divorce. It’s never easy for children to be separated from their parents, whether it’s because of a brief business trip or a move across the country. Even moving to a nearby town can create stress for children if they won’t see you as often or won’t have easy access to their friends or their other parent.
Many parents who live at a distance from their children after divorce say that they sometimes struggle to connect with their kids long-distance. It all comes down to quantity versus quality. I recommend that you make the best of the situation by focusing on the quality of contact and not let feelings of guilt or regret impact you greatly because you don’t have as much time with your kids.
Here’s how to connect with kids long-distance after divorce.
It’s fairly common for children of divorce to experience a high need for control. This is especially true if his or her parents had an adversarial or bitter divorce. As a result, give your children control over small things when you’re together. For instance, giving them a choice about your dinner menu, social outings or when they want a friend to visit. This can help them to feel empowered. In regards to more significant decisions – such as where to attend school – you’re wise to get their feedback (especially teenagers) and let them know you and their other parent will make the final decision.
The best way to connect with kids long distance after divorce is to inform him or her that you’ll do your best to keep your relationship the same. Also, reassure them of your love and devotion and say that you’ll visit as often as possible. Remind your children that they’ll have their own room, clothes, TV, and electronics at your new home.
Sitting down with a paper or Google calendar will make your visits with your children more concrete. Be sure to mark down birthdays, holidays, and summer vacation visits. When you speak to your children on the phone or through text, this calendar will come in handy.
How to Navigate Remarriage and a Move
It’s normal for children of divorce to experience feelings of intense loss and rejection for a while after one or both find a new love and parents remarry. This is especially true if one or both of their parents moves away at roughly the same time. Be sure that you maintain an open dialogue with your children so that they feel comfortable sharing negative feelings with you.
On the other hand, if you sense they’re withdrawing or fearful of being vulnerable with you, it’s a good idea to contact a professional counselor and encourage your children to engage in counseling so that they can discuss a wide range of emotions with a neutral person and receive support.
Likewise, children raised by a stepparent may experience loss or sad feelings if they’re close to this person and they move away or lose contact with them when your second marriage ends.
Further, if it’s your second divorce and your children were attached to their stepparent, do your best to put any negative feelings toward your ex-partner aside, and promote meaningful contact between them if possible.
When Do I Introduce My Children to My Love Interest?
One of the biggest mistakes’ parents make is introducing their children to a new love interest too soon after divorce. Be sure to have special time with your kids, apart from your new partner, and give them time to adjust to the breakup before you introduce them to someone new. This is especially important for long-distance parents who have less time with their kids.
Your children may show interest in your love interest – girls particularly tend to do this – but later feel rejected if they believe they’re missing out on quality time with you. What’s the hurry? There’s no such thing as an instant family. Healing from a divorce takes place over the course of many years, so don’t rush into spending time with your children and a new partner post-divorce.
It’s important to reassure your children that your new partner will not replace their other parent or change your relationship with them. Most young children find their parents’ dating behaviors confusing – they may feel threatened or even resentful about having to share you with another person. When you meet someone you care about, you’ll want to introduce him or her to your children once the relationship seems solid. Be sure to inform their other parent first.
If you have a new partner, adopt realistic expectations about your children’s acceptance of him or her. Just because you are enthralled with this person, doesn’t mean that your kids will share your enthusiasm. When you see your children, be sure to focus on your relationship and develop new rituals and traditions – such as movie nights – that can help to solidify your bond. These routines are valuable for all families – even during weekend visits or vacations – and they are a great way to connect with kids long distance.
6 Tips to Connect With Kids Long Distance:
1. Send your children funny or interesting messages once a week. If you have more than one child, some group cards are acceptable. Make sure to make the messages positive such as “I’m looking forward to seeing you soon!” or “Good luck on your spelling test.”
2. Call him or her regularly. While it’s a good idea to have a regular time to call your children, spontaneous phone calls can be a nice surprise and help make your children feel that you are thinking of him/her.
3. Use text, Skype, e-mail, and Instagram. Be sure to send photos and ask questions about their week such as: “How was the sleepover at Maggie’s house?”
4. Invite your children’s friends on vacations and outings. Meeting the parents of your children’s friends can also be a plus because they’ll feel more comfortable if you invite them on a weekend excursion such as a camping trip or a stay at a hotel.
5. Tune into your children’s passions and engage in small talk about it. Research online and in-person ways to engage with them around these interests.
6. Ask your children about the best way to stay in touch. For instance, would they prefer that you travel to visit them, or do they want to come see you? Do they prefer phone calls or texts? Truth be told, children’s preferences change over time so be sure to have regular conversations with them, especially if they’re adolescents and have complicated schedules.
It’s normal to miss your children when you don’t see them every day, and letting them know this can be healing for everyone. However, if you connect with kids after divorce, you need not be overwhelmed with guilt or self-blame.
It’s a good idea to focus on the things you can control such as maintaining regular communication and staying tuned into their interests and passions. Over time, your children will feel close and loved by you regardless of living at a distance or your travel schedule. If you focus on the quality of your relationship, offer reassurance, and strive to give them a sense of control over many decisions in their lives, you’ll help your kids feel loved and secure.