Staying Connected To Children When Living Apart - 12 Tips for Successful Long Distance Parenting

Of all the challenges, change and stress divorce brings, long distance parenting is one of the most painful and difficult to face. And yet, it is a very real experience for countless numbers of divorced families, with limited support available. Whilst this is written for separated and divorced long-distance parents, many expats living apart from their children have found these tips useful. Where Skype Parents, in particular "skype dads" has become a common trend in this mobile society.

Communication is Key

When parents are living together communication is relatively easy, and even if the relationship was bitter at the end, at least you knew you would have the opportunity by proximity to discuss your children. If you see your children daily you know how their day was, what they did at school, when they are sick, who their friends are, what they like to do after school, activities and entertainment they love and hate etc.

When the parents live together and see each other frequently information about important events are also shared, like school and sports activities, subject choices, concerts, holiday dates and the like. This knowledge benefits the child-parent relationship.

When parents separate, this automatic communication changes and often ends. If the parents are hurt, angry, or just not interested in communicating any more the parent who lives away from the children misses out on a lot of information.

After a while the long-distance parent can barely know anything about life for their children. When communication is broken between the parents it can become broken between the child and parent. This can be avoided if both parents make an effort to communicate regularly with each other, especially if the children are young.

One the hardest parts about my parent's divorce was my losing dad. My parents couldn't and still can't stand each other. Dad moved a few hours away to start over, I went from seeing him every day to every 5 or so weeks. The more time passed, the more I noticed he had become a stranger, he knew nothing about me and I knew nothing about him....years later we became close again, but we will never get those years back and I don't want that to happen to you or any parents and children close to you, so please feel free to share this article with those long-distant parenting.

12 Tips for Successful Long-Distance Parenting

1, Always Initiate Contact

As the adult it is your responsibility to initiate contact. Don't sit passively waiting for them to email, message or call you. Keep trying until you get through.... and don't give up. Don't take it personally if your child doesn't respond straight away, has nothing to say and only stays on the phone a few minutes. This is pretty normal for kids and is nothing to do with you.

2, Know What is Going on for Them

Remain interested and involved in the details. Know the names of their teachers, friends and favorite tv shows / video games. Take an interest in homework, these days you can view it online or by sending a picture. Remember involvement is key for relationship building.

3, Keep to your Word

Initiate a regular schedule for contact and follow it. If you say you will call, call. If say you will email, make sure you do. All relationships are built on trust and predictability, your child needs to be able to trust your word.

4, Calendar Major Events In

Sometimes I find when I don't schedule in appointments or others events, they slip my mind. I now have two calendar's, one calendar for my schedule and one for those I coach, where I put in their anniversaries, court dates, doctor appointments, job interviews, holidays and medical treatments, etc so I know what is going on for them, so I can give support at the right time.

5, Avoid Yes & No Questions

I work with many children going through separation and divorce and one thing I have learnt is, if you ask yes and no questions - you will get yes and no answers. Instead of "Did you have a good day at school?" Ask "what was the best thing that happened in school today?"

6, Don't Make them a Messenger

Avoid asking them to relay messages or to give you details on what the other parent is doing. Often when I speak to teenagers they say that one parent asks who the other is dating or how much money they are spending. etc. If they feel awkward they may not want to speak again. It's natural for us to avoid communication we don't enjoy.

7, Keep Communication Varied

Use video whenever possible when talking, nearly 60% of our communication is through our body language, so show your interest and love for your child through your facial expressions and hand gestures.

Variety is also great for children and long distance relationships, use text messages, send pictures, emails, e-cards as well as snail mail. Nothing is more exciting than opening a letter or package with your name on it.

8, Connect around a Common Interest

The best conversations happen when two people share a passion and interest. This could be movies, TV shows, sports, books, games, pick something you can connect over and share your insights, funny moments and what you are looking forward to next. If you don't have any common interests make a point to find one.

9, Praise Them

Children like adults need positive praise and admiration. Build them up and if you need to mention anything they are doing not so good. Always ensure you give more positive than negative, a 5 to 1 ratio is great. This communication is all you have when apart, so you will want to both feel good after a call.

10, Always Have Something to Look Forward To

This is one of my philosophies in living a happy life and in the parent-child long-distance relationship this is so important to. Always have something you can look forward to together, another call, your next visit, a holiday, even if it is a while away, is a lovely positive way to end a call.

11, Stay Connected to the other Parent

Whilst you may find it challenging to communicate with them, especially if you are angry they put you in this situation, it is important for effective co-parenting to be civil and flexible. Respect their rules and schedules and ask them if they need any support with your child. If you are still harboring a lot of resentment or anger, recognise that this hurts you more than the other person.

12, Look After Yourself

Many fathers and mothers who are living apart from their children share with me that they feel numb, lonely, depressed, and often worry that their children will forget who they are. After a few sessions, having talked it through they feel more alive and equipped to make the best of their situation. We brain storm ideas to handle any issues, increase the child-parent bond and tips on dealing with a difficult ex. So I encourage you to get with someone you trust share concerns and list ways to address them, rather than bottle them up. You deserve happiness too.

Overall to maintain your relationship it helps to be consistent, creative and cooperative.

Making Long-Distance Parenting Work

Both parents need to ensure the relationship between the parent at a distance and their child continues. This is not easy, especially after divorce. It requires compassion, integrity, flexibility and a commitment to the parent- child relationship. Both parents are 50% responsible for making the long-distance parenting work, as this is in the child's best interest.

Hope something in this is useful to you.

From my heart to yours, Nicola

Author's Bio: 

Nicola Beer is an International Relationship & Divorce Coach. She helps couples on a verge of a break up to create more love, passion, fun and respect to save their marriage. She is an expert on living passionately after infidelity, whether the couple decide to stay together or separate.

As a child of divorce Nicola knows how it feels to be angry, lost, alone and relieved at the same time. So works with parent's and their children to help them through it.
Nicola focuses on enriching her clients whether single or married to create new beginnings. She continues to inspire people, spreading great insights, passion and love into people's lives, through coaching, writing and podcasting. She is the co-author of 3 Amazon best sellers and two podcast shows "Love Talk with Nicola Beer" and "Divorce Talk with Nicola Beer" which are available on Itunes, soundcloud, stitcher radio, which you can download or subscribe for free.

On her website she has 3 e-books FREE available for you as well. visit

"7 Secrets to Saving Your Marriage"

"10 Simple Steps You Can Take Now To Creating A New Life After Divorce"

"Protect Your Children Through Divorce - Avoid 3 Common Pitfalls Most Parents Make"