If you have been through a divorce and finally feel as if you are settling into a new normal, you may be quick to realize that you have a whole new challenge facing you. As the non-custodial parent, it is difficult to stay involved with your children and their day-to-day activities. It may now take some creativity and extra effort on your part to be involved in everything that is important to them. As you set boundaries for these new relationships, there are a few ways you can work to strengthen the connection with your children when they do not live with you.
Remember you are the parent, not a visitor
When you do not see your kids every day, it is easy to feel as if you are an outsider looking in. As the adult in the relationship, you have to take the initiative and actually act like a parent. It may be painful to work on the relationships, but you can do it by sharing responsibility for everyday things such as driving carpool, taking the kids to doctor appointments and attending games and practices. Work with your ex to ensure that you are someone involved on a day-to-day basis rather than someone who stops by every two weeks.
Resolve your own anger and hostility
Divorce comes with all kinds of emotions, but children are often the innocent victims dealing with things they do not understand. Even if you are still bitter and angry toward your ex, expressing these feelings around your kids can genuinely confuse them and even alienate them if you are not careful. See a therapist or find your own way to work through your issues so you do not burden your children with bitterness and anger toward the other parent.
Do not draw the line at child support
If you are the non-custodial parent, it is likely that you pay child support for the kids so your ex can give them shelter, food and clothing. This does not mean that you should stop the support there. Take them shopping and let them pick out a few outfits, toys and decorative items that stay at your house and make them feel comfortable in a new place with an entirely new situation.
Set the scene from the beginning
As the non-custodial parent, the time to start thinking about maintaining relationships with your kids is the second it is decided that divorce is the answer. To help you get the contact and interaction you need to keep your children close emotionally, you may benefit from consulting an attorney before you file for divorce.