After a divorce one of the parents may relocate. They may need to get away from the place that holds so many memories for them or for a job. They may relocate to have the assistance of friends and family.
While this is traumatic and tough, It is still possible to be a quality parent when you live far away from your children. Make sure they understand you didn’t move to get away from them. They will need to know this from you. Don’t assume they know it because too many children do end up blaming themselves for such factors – and you may need to tell them several times in different ways.
Let your children know where you will be moving to and why. Let them know how they can get int contact with you. Make “dates” to video conference with them. Consider getting an Amazon, Google, or Microsoft device that allows easy “drop ins” to chat and see each other. This way they won’t feel abandoned in anyway. If there is a time change between where you live and where they live, make sure they know about that too. This way they will have the best chances of getting in touch with you.
Do all you can to stay connected to your children. They should feel like they can call you any time of the day or the night. They should have your cell phone number and email. You may want to consider writing them a letter every week and providing them with prepaid envelopes so they can do the same. Do your best to be in contact with them at least every couple of days, even if it is only to talk (and listen) for a few minutes.
Take some time to stay interested in what your children are doing. Find out what is going on at school. and stay in touch with school staff weekly. Ask about their friends and their activities. If they are involved in sports, music or art - then ask them to let you know about the games (and get in touch with their coaches). Send them photos at least weekly via email or text.
It is going to take some good scheduling and planning to see your children when you live far away, and we recommend a formal parenting plan as an agreement between parents. Do remember that your kids may want to spend some of their holidays with the other parent from time to time. Make accommodations when you can for their best benefit.
It may be more cost effective for you to travel to where they are at then it will be to bring them to you. It depends on how far away you are and how many children you have. They age of the children matters too as younger ones often have a difficult time traveling. Most airlines do allow older children to fly alone but this can be hard for parents to accept.
Some parents that live far away from their children feel the only way to show they care is to send expensive gifts. While those are a nice bonus, that isn’t what it is all about. Your children want to know that you love them and that you care about them. They want to know that no matter how many miles are between you, they have a loving and support parent that is always there for them. It’s more valuable to have regular contact, be honest and real, and let them know they are loved.
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Chris has worked in tech for 30 years, and healthcare tech for 8 of those. He's on the advisory board of Harvard-Based Think:Kids, and runs Rad Dad Rules. He is the proud Dad of two awesome kids, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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