Maintaining a close relationship with children is often the biggest challenge for parents during divorce. This is especially true for non-custodial parents who may have joint custody but are unable to be involved in the lives of their children on a daily basis, whether it is because they serve in the military, travel for work, work odd hours, or some other reason.
This arrangement may have worked while married, but parents will now need to take conscious steps for building or maintaining strong relationships with the children. Each family’s dynamics are unique, but there are approaches that can help continue the special bond between parent and child.
5 tips for fostering a connection
Kids will often feel like their lives have been turned upside down. This is because they have, but there are steps a parent can take to reassure them that everything will be okay:
- Be present: Invest as much time as possible in being present. Make plans for activities and follow through. This may involve professional sacrifices, but this investment will pay off as long as your income is sufficient to pay bills and support the family.
- Make coparenting work: The well-being of the children is the priority, so set aside personal issues with an ex-spouse and try to have a strong working relationship while also protecting your parental rights.
- Good screen time: Kids are very comfortable with screens, so take advantage of technology to stay involved even when you are across town or on the other side of the world.
- Maximize your time: Do not overschedule, but try to create positive experiences that lead to lasting memories. Fancy trips may be a part of this, particularly if it was before, but this is about activities that will be fun for the kids and make you look like a hero, whether it is ski weekends, dinner at a favorite restaurant or the latest movie.
- Be flexible: This may contradict the need to maximize your time, but let the children weigh in with what they want to do. This also applies to working with your ex, who likely appreciate the extra effort whenever you can step in because something urgent comes up on their end.
Parenting plans are a good start
Thoughtful parenting plans can provide some helpful guidelines and opportunities for a parent to build their relationship. An experienced family law attorney can help draft one that addresses the unique needs of the children and parents at this time, and how the plan will shift as the children get older and their needs change.