Divorce is a time of transition, disconnect, and insecurity. You and your former spouse must cope with feelings of pain, frustration, and rejection. And while you might think nobody can feel worse than you do right now, your children might actually feel worse.
Parents generally know and understand the reasons for divorce, no matter how painful they might be. Children, on the other hand, lack the same level of understanding. Whereas you might feel betrayed by your former spouse, your kids might feel betrayed, abandoned, and hurt by both you and your former spouse. As a result, it’s not uncommon for kids to isolate and distance themselves from their parents.
The good news is, a divorce from your spouse doesn’t have to mean a divorce from your kids. With some hard work, genuine interest, and persistent effort, you can regain your children’s trust. Use these tips to stay connected with your kids after your divorce is finalized.
If You Live in the Same Area as Your Kids
If you live near your kids, consider yourself fortunate. Because you have a physical presence in their lives, you’ll probably have an easier time maintaining a connection with them.
If you’re at a loss as to how to get started, try a few of these ideas.
- Leave Notes
Leave a note in your child’s lunchbox or car to remind them how much you care. Things like cartoons, quotes, or a simple “I Love You” are easy ways to strengthen your relationship.
- Make Conversation
Talk to your children when they’re around. If you’re driving in the car, chat with them about their favorite songs. If you’re hanging out at home, ask them about their days at school. Some of the most meaningful connections stem from simple chats.
- Start a New Project
Changes abound with divorce, many of which kids see as negative. Make a positive change in your children’s lives by starting a new project. Whether it’s completing a complex puzzle or building a model airplane, you can talk and bond over the project.
- Plan a Special Activity
What kinds of things do your children love to do? Have they been asking to go to a concert? A sporting event? A theme park? Whatever it is, you can plan a special activity with your children to show them you’re interested in their interests. Planning a special activity also gives you both something to look forward to, which helps to strengthen your bond.
- Establish a Routine
With all the changes that come with a divorce, a routine can go a long way in helping a child feel safe and secure. If your children live with you, establish bedtime routines where you can read and talk together. If you don’t live together, you can have some sort of reading or meal routine when you do spend time together.
If You Live a Long Distance from Your Kids
Whether you live 100 or 1,000 miles from your kids, you might have a harder time nurturing a relationship with them. Here are some of the best ways to connect with your kids from a long distance.
- Schedule Weekly Phone Calls
Consistency is key when it comes to connection, so you should make an effort to call your kids at least once every week. Schedule your calls on a Saturday or Sunday when you both have enough time to have meaningful conversations.
If you’re nervous about talking on the phone, write down questions and ideas throughout the week to ensure you have something to talk about.
- Take and Share Photos
Pictures are worth more than a thousand words-they’re worth countless connections and memories. When you’re with your kids, take photos together. When you’re apart, exchange photos via text message or social media to make the distance seem smaller.
- Send Snail Mail
Chances are your children don’t receive mail very often. As a result, a card or letter will make them feel extra special.
- Order Them Takeout from Afar
One of the best ways to let your kids know you’re thinking about them is to surprise them. A simple, creative way to do so is to order them pizza or takeout from their favorite local restaurant. Pay for the food over the phone, and ask the deliveryman to tell your kids the food is from you.
- Plan Trips Together
Few things are more fun than a vacation. Whether your kids come to visit you or you all go somewhere new, taking trips together is a surefire way to build connection.
If Your Kids Don’t Respond Right Away
Don’t allow discouragement or frustration to take over if your kids don’t respond to your efforts right away. Remember, the divorce probably hurt them just as much as, and maybe even more than, it hurt you. As a result, your children might make you put in a lot of time and effort before they feel like they can trust you again.
In this situation, remember to stay positive and persistent. Your efforts will pay off in due time.
If you need additional tips on navigating the world of parenting after a divorce, talk to a family lawyer about parenting plans and co-parenting counseling.