If your child is living abroad, there’s a good chance it was decided by a Court. If that is the case, you probably have a timetable of how and when you will see your child.
If you have agreed with your partner that your child will live abroad, then you have to negotiate how and when you will see him or her before they both move away.
When your child lives abroad it is very easy to feel that you are missing out, so the most important thing you can do is have regular telephone and FaceTime or Skype contact. Before the call, decide how you can make the call different. If you ask the same things every time you call, it will seem more like a formality. It’s always more difficult to continue building a relationship when your child lives abroad but just as you want to know everything about them, it is also important to share a little bit about yourself as it is important that your child knows you too.
Keeping in touch is easier with social media so if your child is old enough to have a Facebook or Instagram account for example, try to be friends but be careful how and what you post as you don’t want your child to be embarrassed because of your contribution! Children are definitely easily embarrassed amongst their peers. The posts on the social media will also make the telephone calls more interesting and engaging.
Children also love to open letters and gifts. You don’t necessarily need to a special occasion to do this. These will be good keepsakes for the children to add to their memory box. Extra effort should most certainly be made on birthdays and Christmas and it is important to be organised so that your gift arrives in good time.
Whether it is through the Court or through discussion with your former partner, it is really important to make sure that the timetable also includes physical or face to face contact. It is important for you to see the children regularly through the year and vice versa. Key holidays, events, birthdays and festivals should be clearly defined so that there is no acrimony between you and the other parent. Always have any travel plans arranged in advance to avoid any issues.
When the time is approaching for physical contact, discuss your intended plans with your child so that they are equally involved in the process. If your child is young, then be sure to have all the information that you need to care for your child including dietary requirements, health conditions, likes and dislikes so that your child feels comfortable with you. For young children it would be help them a have a comforting toy which would ease any anxiety.
Whatever contact you have, it is important that don’t spend the time asking about the other parent. Your child should never be made to feel in a conflicted position and whatever the form of contact, it should be about nurturing your bond with your child and focussing purely on your relationship.
Don’t forget that just because you are in another country does not mean you cannot be involved in key decisions relating to your child’s health and education. Therefore, if your child is at school, try to contact the school by email to obtain updates, especially when school reports are provided.
If your child is in a nursery, it is worth checking if the nursery has an online portal where you can keep in contact and see photos or videos of your child.
There is not one approach that works for all, as each interaction between parents is different and each child has a different relationship with their parent. It is important not to compare, and instead to focus on your child’s interest and to maintain a regular effort to keep in touch. When your child is young, they will be less responsive to telephone and FaceTime/Skype contact but the key thing is to commit to this and when the child grows older, they will enjoy that interaction and retain a level of comfort and familiarity with you.
If you are struggling to agree contact or are experiencing difficulties in maintaining an existing Court Order, I would be happy to assist and you can email me, Hardeep Dhillon, at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can telephone me on 0208 899 6620.