Not many things containing the words “long distance” are easy or come naturally, least of all maintaining relationships. However it is possible and it can work.
You have to accept certain things when you take the step or should I say plunge into the world of long distance co-parenting. If you are the parent with primary custody you’ll be used to your child living with you and may resent them being so far away. You may feel the need to get involved with the other parents parenting methods, conversations with your child and every aspect of them being way from you. This is unhealthy and counterproductive. Nevertheless it is incredibly difficult to let go of those feelings. Sometimes it will seem that you’re stuck with the day to day boring aspects of the parent-child relationship whereas your ex-spouse hundreds of miles away enjoys spending the exciting holidays with your son/daughter, ice-cream, theme parks and worry free good times. Conversely they may feel they miss the actual process of their offspring growing up, the first school performance, first loose tooth, the little moments you may take for granted. This doesn’t mean it is good for your fight for sole custody, if you are the one moving away or in a city/state the child doesn’t already live in then you’ll be unlikely to be successful. This can’t turn into a competition about who has the better deal; this if for your child. They want and need both parents present in their life, no matter how difficult it may sometimes seem.
Keeping in contact
Communication between parents may seem a bigger challenge the more distance between you. However it’s 2017, we have social media, Skype, email, Google drive, and the list goes on. There’s no excuse to let the communication slip or close the channels. It is vital to keep talking to avoid misunderstandings, agree on certain rules to maintain in both households and to co-ordinate calendars in line with your long distance visitation schedules. Each parent needs to be informed and updated; the long distance inevitably means each parent will at some point miss certain events/important dates for your child. Equally as valuable is giving your child the opportunity to talk with each parent whenever and wherever they are even if that’s half way across the country or even the globe. If you’re the parent who lives with the child the majority of the time you need to help keep their relationship alive with the long distance parent, support their communication.
Keeping in contact is ever more important in long distance co-parenting situations because there are so many extra factors to consider. Travel arrangements, provisions, expenses and logistics. Not to mention the sudden amplified value of holiday periods. With visitations more likely to be infrequent there may be certain legal provisions enforced in regards to keeping communication channels open as well as the aforementioned travel provisions. These guidelines need to be agreed upon and drawn up in a long distance parenting plan that is understood and respected by both parents.
It’s possible! However it needs to be done correctly. Both parents need to agree and ensure they do not jeopardize the wellbeing of their child; the long distance relationship needs to be maintained. This takes a lot of energy, commitment and not least of all acceptance of inevitable change. It sounds simple but just remember: your child’s needs come first.
Krishan Smith is the new senior editor at Custody X Change, a custody software specialist company.