Whatever the cause, whether it be divorce, work, military service or prison that takes one parent out of the household, separation is difficult for both the parent and the children.
Small children may not understand why mom or dad is not around and older children may resent the absence. The absent parent oftentimes suffers from depression and a deep longing to see their children. They may feel so guilty about leaving their children that they may avoid contact thinking that it will be easier for everyone. Usually the absent parent feels bewildered, lost and left wondering, “What can I do?”
There are several ways in which an absent parent can remain in close contact with their children, however. It is vital that these steps be taken to maintain the relationship. The children need the love and support of the absent parent and the parent needs to know that, although they cannot be with their children as much as they would like, they are still a very important component in the healthy development of their children. Going the extra mile to stay involved teaches children how to persevere in the face of less-than-perfect circumstances.
Staying involved if you’re The Absent Parent
- Talk on the phone.Set aside a regular day and time to talk with your kids and keep the appointment! If you cannot call at your regular time call ahead and explain why. Children can be very disappointed when an expected call doesn’t come. Many cell phone plans and land-line phone services have unlimited long-distance available. Talking on the phone allows you to hear one another’s voices, as well as to share emotions. Calling your kids at bedtime to ‘tuck them in’ is a very special way to show your love.
- E-mail.If you and your children have access to e-mail, USE IT! Kids love to communicate online. You can also send free e-cards ‘just because’. If you have the time, keep a daily journal of your activities and send it to them. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just a few sentences sent to them at the end of the day. It lets them know they are on your mind even when you can’t be there.
- Share digital photos.Take plenty of photos while you are apart and send them through e-mail or regular mail. Request that they send you snapshots of their school pictures, day-to-day activities, and special occasions.
- Set up a web cam.If you have internet access a web cam can be purchased for both computers for less than $50.00. What could beat seeing your children while you talk with them?
- Send surprise gifts and cards.These don’t have to be anything expensive, just a little something to say, “I’m thinking of you!”
- Get a local phonebook.Consider getting a copy of the local phone directory where your kids live. Order flowers, pizza, or other treats to be sent to them as a surprise.