In Our Hearts and In Our Minds: Staying Close To Your Non-Custodial Child Regardless of Geographical Distance

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By FamilyWare
Nov 28, 2004, 01:54

Summary: How do we, as non-custodial parents, try to maintain a normal relationship with our child, even though in some cases, our child lives 3,000 miles away? How do we maintain a closeness to our children, so close to their hearts, they never forget us, regardless of their age, and regardless if they live around the corner from us, or many miles away?

One doesn’t have to be a divorce/custody professional nor even a student researching the divorce statistics of present times, to realize divorce is a very real issue, and possibility. It effects every one of us. Statistics show chances are better than 65% that a first marriage will not make it.

Second marriages have an even greater possibility of failing. Therefore, it’s easy to say that many of us have already lived through a divorce, and are battling with the custody dilemma. Many of us, either by choice or by a forced decision handed down by the courts, do not have physical custody of our children – both men and women a like.

How do we, as non-custodial parents, try to maintain a normal relationship with our child, even though in some cases, our child lives 3,000 miles away? How do we maintain a closeness to our children, so close to their hearts, they never forget us, regardless of their age, and regardless if they live around the corner from us, or many miles away? The answer is simple–we can live many miles away from our loved ones, yet stay close to them emotionally, just by the little things we do to keep their memory of us alive and living in them.

The rest of this document contains a handful of suggestions, that have been tried and proven methods, to help maintain a close relationship between you and your children. Although written expressly for the non-custodial parent and his/her children, we feel any parent will find these suggestions helpful in maintaining a close relationship with their children. We encourage you to try them all.

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Make a habit of calling your child once if not two times per week, always on the same day and at the same time. This way, your child will begin to recognize the times that you do call, and will look forward to those times. Be sure to pick a time that is both convenient for you, and your child, so the two of you are not rushed through the conversation.
Find out what your child’s interests are. If your children know how to read, find books pertaining to their interests, and suggest they read the book you sent them, to you, over the phone. If the book is too big, they can read a chapter at a time.
Poems are another way of capturing a child’s interest. Take the child shopping during one of his/her visits, and pick out a children’s book of poetry together. Read the book together while your child is with you, and pick out a favorite poem. Your child can then read the poem to you, over the phone, but will remember the times the two of you read the poem together, while she was visiting.
Take your child shopping, but do not shop for just anything. Shop for something that will last. If you are lucky enough to have a backyard, pick out a rose bush or some flowering plant with your child. Allow your child to help you take care of the plant the entire time he or she is with you. This includes planting and watering, as well as watching it grow. When your child is no longer with you, snip one of the flowers off of the plant, and send it to your child. The mere scent of the flower will instantly bring you to his mind.
If you don’t have a backyard, try cutting a potato in half, secure half of it with toothpicks, and stick the other half in a jar of water. It will eventually start growing into a plant. Everytime your child looks at a potato, he’ll think of you!
Don’t forget your child’s school. Request to be placed on the school’s mailing list – send the appropriate SASE’s if the school must have them. Find out when special activities are taking place, and bake and send cupcakes or whatever is appropriate at that time. Although disapointed you could not attend, your child will be thrilled that something from you, an effort on your part, was there that night, and your child will never forget it.
Make sure you are the one who buys at least a portion of your child’s school supplies, but not just any supplies. Send “special” pencils – pencils with their names on them, pencils especially for them, sent especially from you. Everytime they use that pencil, they will think of you, either subconsciously, or consciously.
And pencils are not the only item that can display a child’s name. Barretts for little girls – everytime they look in the mirror to brush their hair, every time they look at or touch the barrett, they will see you, not just the barrett. This rule easily applies to shoes, socks, sweaters…anything that can be worn, but try to make it a “special” item.
Don’t forget photographs and videos. Photographs of yourself, the family pet, the plant you planted and grew together, should be sent to your child in 8X10 blowups and in living color. Videos of times shared between you and your child make a good impact, as well as a photo album. Always get a second set of copies, and place the copies in a special photo album just for your child. Pocket sized photo albums make the best gifts, as this allows your child to carry the albums with her, if she so chooses.

DEDICATIONS: This electronic document is dedicated to the attornies, divorce/custody counselors and mediators, and to all others who lend emotional support during one of life’s crises, but it is especially dedicated to my father, who once said –

“See the butterfly hanging from that branch over there? That’s a Monarch butterfly, and after I die, I’m coming back as a Monarch butterfly. So, if you should see one, be sure to say hello, because rest assured, it’s just me, checking up on you.”

Thanks for keeping your memory alive for me, Dad.

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