Adjusting To Shared Custody After Divorce: Keep in Touch With the Kids

Adjusting to Shared Custody After DivorceAfter a divorce, adjusting to shared custody of your kids can be very difficult, to say the least. Maybe your children stay with their dad on weekends and major holidays or during their summer vacations.

These periods of separation can be some of the most difficult in your life, particularly when the wounds of divorce are still fresh.

Even when you know that you’ll see your kids again in a few days or weeks, the pain of not seeing them on a daily basis can cause you great heartache and even separation anxiety. Still, you can make it through. The key is to find positive and creative ways to communicate with your children while they are visiting your former spouse.

Call your kids on a regular basis. You can tell your children to call you whenever they feel like it, but that may take time because kids might worry about making the other parent feel betrayed or jealous. If your children are very young you should be the one to initiate calls. You can arrange to ring at regular times, so you both can look forward to catching up, and your ex can arrange for them to be available when you call.

When you call, remember these rules:

  • Keep it brief and positive. Do not tell your kids how sad you are, or how much you miss them. This will only make them feel bad and sorry for you… meaning they will feel guilty. Tell them how much you love them but do so with a smile on your face, even if it’s forced. Tell them some amusing anecdotes about their dog, a neighbor, etc.
  • Do not call at improper hours. Your children have a routine with their other parent. It’s their life with your ex-partner, and you have to respect this. So do not call when it´s bedtime or dinnertime, or when you know they are committed to some special activity.
  • Don’t use your children as messengers. If you have something to say to your ex-husband, do not say it through your kids. Adult business must not contaminate children’s world. Keeping in touch with your kids while they are away is all about them, and no one else. Also, do not interrogate them about what your ex-partner does.

Read Related: How to Co-Parent After Divorce

Send letters or cards. Writing is a wonderful way to tell your children you’re thinking about them. All kids love getting real mail. Write letters to your kids telling them all about your daily activities and plans for when you see them again. SMS messages are also a great way to keep in touch with older kids.

Skype or any other VOIP technology is a great—and cheap!—way to keep in touch. You can chat with your children about daily activities or just blow them a kiss over the webcam.

Email is a wonderful way to communicate with your kids if they are old enough to read and respond. They will love to receive and send emails; but be aware that anything you write will likely be read by your ex.

Be reassuring, positive and open. Children can be frightened by the strong emotions that go along with separation. There are positive ways parents can cope with separation from their children so that their own anxiety does not overwhelm the kids. These positive ways to be in touch with your children will make you all stronger people.

Do not have expectations; just tell your children you are there for them. Remember that you are communicating with your children in order to let them know you love them. Do not expect anything in return. Children often sound distant when they are with the other parent. They can feel shy about being affectionate with you in front of your ex, as they may believe they are betraying one parent by telling the other they love him/her. Don’t be offended if they don’t engage with you much at a given moment. Also, explain to them when they are with you that it’s okay to love both parents.

Remember, if your kids are immersed in activities with their other parent, that’s a good thing—it means they’re having too much fun to miss you. Let them be happy and carefree with Dad; they’ll still have plenty of love for you when they come back. And yours for them will never run out.