Separation and Divorce: Keeping in Touch with Your Children
For many, the thought of not seeing their children on a daily basis can be difficult, but when you divorce, it is inevitable that your children will spend time with your former spouse whether you have shared custody, sole custody, or visitation. Veronique De Miguel posted an article on Mamiverse.com with some suggestions for keeping in touch with your children when they are with your former spouse. Here are some of Ms. De Miguel’s suggestions, as well as some of my own:
- Call your children on a regular basis (unless you are restricted by Agreement or Court Order). When you call remember these rules:
- Keep it brief and positive;
- Do not call at improper hours;
- Do not use your children as messengers;
- Do not be upset or discouraged if your child chooses not to speak with you on the telephone. Some children don’t enjoy talking on the telephone or don’t want to be interrupted when they are engaged in something else. However, it is still beneficial for them to hear that you called and wanted to speak to them. Sometimes it is your effort that is most important.
- Send letters, greeting cards or post cards. Even in today’s world of instant messaging, kids still love to receive mail. Again, keep your letter brief and positive. If you want, enclose a picture or a small inexpensive trinket in the mail, such as a stick of bubble gum, a pencil, or other small item that your child might enjoy.
- Use Skype, I-chat, or any other VOIP technology.
- Email or text if your child is old enough and has their own account. Remember, anything you write or send will likely be read by your former spouse. Also, make sure you don’t “over do it” by texting or emailing too often. You don't want to be perceived as pestering and you don’t want to turn your child away from you rather than bringing your child closer to you. When communicating with your child, be reassuring, positive and open.
- Have a special “coming home” tradition. Establish a tradition for you and your children to enjoy when they return to you after being with their other parent for several days or more. It can be as simple as going out for a special treat, reading a favorite book together, or playing a game, or it can be more complex such as a special dinner that includes a menu of favorite foods, or to which each family member invites a friend It is beneficial for your child to have something to look forward to, in addition to seeing you, especially if they might be sad they are leaving the other parent.
- Be Generous. Let your children know you love them, but do not expect anything in return. Children often feel that they are betraying the other parent if they show too much emotion or talk to long with the other parent. Also, children don’t always have the same desire to share as adults do, they need to keep some things “their own” and private. Let your children know you are there for them.