Divorce affects children emotionally, physically, and psychologically. The effects of divorce are further compounded when one of the parents moves out of state. However, while long-distance parenting is not an ideal situation it is manageable with a little work, a little planning, and the cooperation of the entire family.
The first step in creating a long-distance parenting plan is to create a parenting plan that focuses on issues that will help reduce the negative effects that your divorce situation could create.
One of the issues that you will need to address is how visitation and custody will be arranged so that the out-of-state parent is still able to spend quality time with their children.
For example, you may want to allow the kids to spend the summers with the out-of-state parent while they stay with the other parent during the school year.
In addition to creating a visitation plan, you will also need to address how the kids will be transported between parents’ houses, who will pay for their transportation, and what travel restrictions will be placed on the out-of-state visitation.
The next thing that you can do to reduce the negative effects of divorce and long-distance parenting is to work together to keep your family unit together. While this is not possible to do physically there are other ways that you can keep your kids in contact with their out-of-state parent.
For example, you can plan for frequent contact between your children and the out-of-state parent via phone calls, email, IMs, video conferencing, and Skype. Snail mail is also an option.
In addition to staying in contact, you will also want to try and focus on making a strong connection between the kids and the out-of-state parent by involving the out-of-state parent in discussions about school, activities, and other important issues that relate to the children.
When your children are not with their out-of-state parent you can reduce the effects of your divorce by fostering their relationship by reliving positive memories of that parent, by keeping a photograph of the parent in the child’s room and by encouraging your children to call or email their other parent.
Your encouragement is basically your way of giving your children permission to still love their other parent. This is very important for their mental health and emotional development.
Another way that you can control how divorce affects your children is to be a responsible parent. If you are the out-of-state parent then it is your responsibility to stay in touch with your children, to pay child support on time, and to do everything that you can to support and nurture your kids.
If you are the custodial parent then it is not technically your job to make sure your former spouse stays in contact, however, for the sake of your kids it is a good idea to encourage the out-of-state parent to remain a part of their children’s lives.