As a non-custodial parent
, you will be as important to your children as you choose to be. It's up to you to make the decision to be an involved non-custodial parent
. Remind yourself daily that your ongoing effort to communicate with your children, through a variety of means, continually reassures your them of your unconditional and absolute love for them. Here are some tips for incorporating various methods of communication as you work to remain involved and strengthen your parent-child bond:
1. Regularly Scheduled Phone Calls
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Some families choose to establish a regular, pre-determined phone call schedule. If it works for your family, by all means, stick with it. It is certainly helpful for everyone to know when they can anticipate your call. In fact, if your children are very young, or if you've just recently separated or divorced, you may want to establish a pattern of calling nightly, which can be particularly reassuring for your kids.
2. Unscheduled Phone CallsHowever, if you feel that regularly scheduled calls aren't working out, because of yours or your children's irregular schedules, don't become discouraged. You can still call regularly without it being a pre-scheduled event! This means that you should just pick two or three times during the week when you're going to call and try to reach them or leave a genuinely warm and loving message on the answering machine. It may not seem like a big deal to your kids, but that attempt to have regular contact, even if you're just leaving messages, is one way that you can convey the message to your kids that you're constantly thinking of them and caring about their everyday experiences.
3. Ask About the EverydayCommunicating regularly can be hard when you're not there for the everyday stuff, like helping with homework, getting to know their friends, and participating in extra-curricular activities. That's why it's even more important that you inquire about these things when you talk. Even if your kids don't seem to "open up" a lot during your phone calls, asking questions about your kids' lives is like planting a bulb in the ground which will later bloom in the springtime, when your children really need your influence and guidance. Be confident that your efforts today will pay off when your kids later come to you for advice with their with problems and questions.
4. Using Other Forms of CommunicationDon't limit yourselves to just phone calls, either. There are so many great ways to communicate with your kids! You can send them a care package in the mail, mail a simple letter, send them a newspaper clipping or a magazine article you think they'd be interested in, leave them a text message, or E-mail them. Using the great variety of communication ideas at your fingertips, you can really convey to your kids the idea that even while you're apart from them, you continue to care for them with all of the affection and sincerity you've always felt. In this way, you are living out your promise to them that - even through a divorce or separation - you are still family.
5. Communicate With Your Ex as Well
Many times non-custodial parents
will complain that the custodial parent either doesn't allow for contact between visits, or discourages or interferes with contact. If this is happening to you, make an effort to communicate with your ex about it. Explain why it's so important to continue ongoing communication between visits. If he or she is still reluctant or appears to be playing games with your communication, request that the two of you work with a professional mediator
to resolve your differences.
6. Stay InvolvedBeing an involved non-custodial parent is not an easy task. Oftentimes there are many obstacles and inconveniences in your way. However, being an active participant is also a sacred responsibility, and your involvement today will pay off down the road in the continued closeness you experience with your children as they grow into adulthood.