No one disputes that divorce is difficult for parents and their children. But if you add one parent having to relocate because of a job transfer, new job, or moving closer to family for support, it can become very difficult for your children to maintain a meaningful relationship with the geographical distant parent. Consequently, you and your children may be living in different time zones. You may have less time to spend with them because of your work schedule and their vacation schedules.
The following suggestions may assist you in supporting a meaningful relationship with your children despite the distance between you:
- Send your child a funny or cute inspirational postcard once or twice a week. Even though we live in an electronic age, children love to get mail, whether it’s in envelopes or postcards. The messages you provide your child don’t matter as long as they are positive. Writing short encouraging statements such as: “Great job on that spelling test”; “Always try your best!”; or “I’m thinking about you right now!” will always receive a warm reception;
- Whenever you are spending a longer time in your children’s home town, be sure to volunteer at their school and in their class. Doing so will give you a shared experience to talk about;
- If your child is attending elementary school, you may be able to provide financial assistance to the teacher as a classroom sponsor. Such a sponsorship may not cost very much and may provide you the opportunity to have your name posted as classroom sponsor in your children’s room. This will give your child an added source of pride and keep you top of his or her awareness;
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- Find out your child’s current passions (and remember they are changing all the time). Whether it’s a television show, a particular movie or series of movies, books, then read or watch them. Bring them up his or her passions in your conversations with your child as another form of shared experience or reference point;
- Send newspaper clippings or magazine clippings to your older children, so that you can talk about something of mutual interest. You don’t always have to converse about personal things;
- Make it a point to know the names of the adults who interact with your child: teachers, coaches, scout leaders, other parents, neighbors, etc. In addition, make sure that you know the names of your children’s closest friends;
- Take an interest in their homework (which often can be viewed online) and other activities that involve your child;
- When talking with your child, avoid asking questions that will yield “yes” or “no” or “one word answers “. For example, instead of asking: “Did you have a good day in school today?” which is likely to get only a yes or no response, ask: “What was your favorite activity at school today?” With the latter question, you are likely to get some information and if you know the projects that your child is working on in his or her particular class, or the homework that has been assigned, then you can tailor your questions. For instance, “What did your teacher think of your report on Spain?”; and
- Play games by mail or online. We live in a computer age and our children, for the most part, are captives of it. Some of us may not know how to even sign onto the internet much less play a game on it. However, that should not be an excuse learn how to. Remember, the more time you spend, the better the relationship you’ll have with your child;
The above tips are not exhaustive. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Take time and be creative in your efforts to stay connected. Both you and your child will benefit from your efforts.