How to Stay Involved in Your Children’s Lives After Divorce
How to Be Involved in Your Children’s Lives After Divorce
A previous post explored the various reasons why it is important for you and your child that you remain involved in your child’s life. Both you and your child can suffer negative consequences from an abrupt conclusion to your parent-child relationship. However, remaining involved in your child’s life is not always an easy task. If you work long hours, are located a considerable distance away from where your children live, or if the other parent is antagonistic toward you, it may feel as if there is not much you can do to continue to be a part of your child’s life. Before you conclude that all hope for actively participating in your child’s life is lost, consider the following steps: (For additional tips see this article)
- Check your custody orders. If the court has granted you legal custody (either solely or jointly with the other parent), then you have a legal right to be involved in making decisions concerning the child’s welfare and upbringing. Take advantage of this right. Discuss with the other parent (if you can do so) what school or activities you believe are in your child’s best interests. If your child will need surgery, participate with the other parent in selecting an appropriate surgeon to perform the procedure. If the other parent attempts to “shut you out” of the decision-making process and you are unable to voice your opinion, consider bringing this fact to the attention of the court.
- Speak with your child’s teachers, coaches, and counselors. Speak with other adults involved in your child’s life and ask that they include you in important discussions regarding your child’s wellbeing. Ask the teacher to provide you with a school calendar of events and to inform you of when parent-teacher conferences will be held so that you can attend these conferences. Similarly, ask your child’s coaches to give you game schedules so you can come and watch your child play. If your child is seeing a counselor, ask that you be included in any discussions regarding your child’s wellbeing that the counselor may choose to have with the other parent.
- Make efforts to be present for your child’s big days. Even if it is not your weekend to have visitation with your child, the other parent cannot (in most cases) object if you choose to attend and participate in important events in your child’s life. Is your child graduating from elementary school? Be certain to be there. Is your child’s Little League or soccer team going to the championships? Make efforts to attend some or all of the games in which your child will play? Is your child’s school putting on a band rehearsal or a school play in which your child will participate? Plan on being present for these events. The more your child sees you present at important milestone events or “big days,” the more your child will believe that you care about him or her and want to be involved in his or her life.
- Communicate often with your child. Make arrangements with the other parent to speak with your children often (and be willing to do the same when your children are visiting with you). If you and the other parent can cooperatively parent, you may be able to arrange with the other parent to have a 15-minute or 30-minute phone call with your children every day or every other day. The more often your children hear your voice talking to them, the closer of a bond they will form with you. (Be sure to extend the same courtesy to the other parent when your children are visiting with you.)