Non-Custodial Parents Are Just as Important as Custodial Parents
When someone is the non-custodial parent, this means they do not have primary custody of their children. It is a common misconception that custodial parents do not see their children, parent them, or support them. Rather, it is quite the opposite. Most non-custodial parents are caring and nurturing and work very hard to maintain strong, positive relationships with their children.
There are several reasons one parent may not have primary custody of their child, but this does not mean that they are not involved in their children's lives. A common reason a parent does not have primary custody of their children is that they or the other parent had to relocate. In some cases, the non-custodial parent has had to move to take a better job to support their children. In others, the custodial parent has had to relocate.
No matter what the reason, you can still have a meaningful relationship with your children when you live far away from them. At The Virga Law Firm, P.A., we believe in supporting parents. Below we've provided a few tips to help non-custodial parents nurture their relationships with their children.
Think Beyond Visitation
While we encourage you to stick to your visitation schedule and avoid missing scheduled visits, we also encourage non-custodial parents to think about the many ways they can connect with their children beyond their in-person visits. This is especially important if you must go long periods between visits. Consider establishing a standing phone or video call appointment with your child so that you can keep in touch with what's going on in their day-to-day life.
Other ways to have a fun, meaningful connection with your children outside of regular visitation include:
- Set up an email account so your children can send you messages whenever they want – and make sure to respond to them quickly
- Play games with your children online - in addition to video games, there are several platforms where you can play card or board games virtually with your kids
- Read the same books and watch some of the same movies and television shows as your kids so that you can talk with them about it – there are even ways to have a virtual movie night with them
- Take an online course together
Connecting with your children when you do not live with them can be difficult. But, if you are open-minded and creative, you may be surprised at all the ways you can create meaningful memories even from a distance.
Ask Your Co-Parent for Help
If you and your child's other parent are in a good enough place, you can enlist their help in keeping you more involved in your child's life. It can be difficult when you miss important moments in your child's life, but you can still be a part of these events with your co-parent's support. Ask them to film important events, such as recitals and sports games. If appropriate, you may even be able to attend virtually. Even if you cannot be there, make sure to talk to your child about these events and congratulate them on their successes. This will remind them that you are there in spirit though you can't be there in person.
Take an Interest in Their Education
Another important way to stay connected to your children is to be kept in the loop regarding their schooling. While you may not be able to attend in-person parent-teacher meetings, many schools have online newsletters you can subscribe to and social media pages where you can keep up to date with events going on at the school. When appropriate, you may also be able to keep in touch with their teachers via email.
When you talk with your children, make sure to ask about their school day consistently and what they get up to. While they may not have much to report initially, over time, they may open up a bit more and start filling you in on what's going on with their classes, teachers, and friends.
Stay Positive & Seek Help if You Need It
Co-parenting will always have its ups and downs. This is especially true for non-custodial parents who have to live far away from their children. Often, non-custodial parents can feel isolated and alone, and this can be very difficult when you don't have a support network to turn to.
If you are struggling, consider working with a therapist or counselor. Your good mental health is important, and you deserve support. Depending on your situation, it may even be appropriate to have virtual family counseling sessions with your children.
Seek a Custody Modification when Necessary
Child custody modifications should never be taken lightly and should only be sought when absolutely necessary. However, if your circumstances have substantially changed, you may need a modification to preserve your relationship with your children. For example, if you have moved out of state, your visitation schedule may need to be altered to ensure that you still get adequate parenting time with your child.
Before seeking a custody or visitation modification, you should consult with an experienced lawyer. An attorney can look at your situation and provide you with the professional guidance you need to make this important decision. Additionally, they may have alternative solutions to your problem that don't involve going back to court.