20 Dec “How often should I speak to my children when they are with my ex?”
This is a tricky question and the answer is different for everyone as it really depends on several things.
You will need to be strong and determine what your motives are for the contact so you can ensure you do the best thing for your child. Here are the important things to consider when deciding how often to speak to your children when they are with your ex:
- Your child: It can be hard to remember but you need to work hard to put the needs of your child first with this one. It may be tempting to call every day however this is not always healthy for them. They do need to learn to enjoy being with your ex so you need to give them the space to achieve this. If you speak to them every day they will not learn to cope without you. Don’t worry, it is often harder for us than them. Kids are much more resilient than we think. The younger they are the faster they can adapt to new situations and as they will not know any different. However you do know your child better than anyone. So if you truly feel they need to speak to you daily then you must arrange to call them so they do not feel abandoned by you. It can be a hard decision as you need to clear in your own mind that you are doing this for their best interests and not your own. Over a period of time you can slowly reduce the calls as it will help them to settle in at your ex’s if you allow them uninterrupted time to do so.
- The length of their time away from you: If your child is only away for one or two nights it can be good for them to not have contact with you for that period of time. It allows them to settle quicker when they don’t have constant reminders of what is happening with you. If they are away for a longer period then it often works to leave them to settle for a while and call them when there are a few days left to go. This way if they do get upset speaking to you there is not long left before they are back with you. By having some contact they are reassured that you are still there for them.
- Their age. When your child is less than 2 years old then they will not know that life for others is any different. If you play it right they will grow up thinking that it is normal to spend time with each parent separately. This makes it easier for them to go between homes and they won’t need to speak to you as often as they accept this is how it works. Set the precedent as early as you can. If your children are older they may want to call you and it’s good to be available to them within reason. However work with your ex if you can on this as it can be difficult if your kids are constantly calling the other parent. You need to work together and come to an agreement that you both stick to. Firm boundaries from the start will help a child to settle even if they do not like them.
- Your child’s emotional state of mind. If you child finds it hard to be away from you then you must try to offer them support without giving in to any manipulation. It is often worth seeking the advice of a professional if your child is very distressed about being away from you.
When you do speak with your child make sure you are upbeat and positive. Do not let make them feel they are missing out on anything by being away as this can be upsetting for them. You can of course tell them that you miss them but keep it light and unemotional. Keep their best interests at heart, however hard it may be.
Remember divorce does not have to damage children in the process. It will very much depend on how you act as parents and role models for them. It is a big responsibility and one that must be taken seriously.