When children are faced with distance from one of their parents due to various circumstances, such as military service, divorce, relocation or travel, it can be emotionally challenging for them. However, there are strategies parents and caregivers can employ to help make this reality easier for a child of any age.
When approaching this challenge, it is very important to consider the child’s level of maturity, communication style and unique needs. Certain tactics will serve the best interests of some children better than others.
Foster open and consistent communication
Maintaining open and consistent communication between a child and a distanced parent can significantly help to ease the stresses of that distance. For example, utilizing technology to facilitate regular virtual visitation between the child and the distanced parent, including video calls, messaging apps and email can provide opportunities for real-time interaction and connection. Establishing a consistent schedule for virtual visits can give the child something to look forward to consistently.
The child and distanced parent can also exchange letters, drawings or care packages. These tangible expressions of love and thoughtfulness can help bridge the distance and provide a sense of connection. This effort would also allow the child to have something physical to hold onto from the distanced parent, which can be particularly helpful for kids with certain personality types.
Foster open and consistent connection
A positive and cooperative co-parenting relationship can also significantly benefit a child when distance separates them from a parent. Encouraging the distanced parent to remain involved in the child’s life through activities, decisions and important milestones can keep them actively involved. Regularly updating the distanced parent on the child’s academic progress, extracurricular activities and healthcare appointments can also help them to feel connected and valued.
Providing love, understanding and consistency can go a long way in making distance from a parent easier on a child. Formalizing some of these approaches in the child’s parenting plan can help to ensure that they’re honored as well.