Separation and divorce are hard on everyone, and when you add children, time, and distance to the equation, things can get even tougher. Maintaining a strong relationship with your noncustodial child can prove particularly challenging if the situation between you and your ex-spouse or partner is not great. However, there are some steps you can take to minimize the emotional strain on everyone involved and continue to act in the best interest of your child. When you and your noncustodial child or children spend time together, try:
To avoid "spoiling" or overspending
It is understandable that you may be tempted to shell out big money on entertainment, special opportunities or lavish gifts for a son or daughter you may not see much. More often than not, however, the true value is in spending quality time with your child. It is certainly fine to want to do nice things when you do get to spend time together, but try and keep the focus on being able to really talk and connect with one another in the process.
To be respectful of the other parent
Often, children (and particularly young children) find it easier to transition between homes and visit a parent they may not see much if their parents maintain a cordial relationship and refrain from badmouthing one another. If your child feels as if both parents are completely on board with the visits, he or she will be more likely to feel comfortable with them, too.
To be sensitive of the stepparent role
If you remarry or have a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend, of course, you should expect your visiting child or children to respect her or him in the same manner they would a teacher, law enforcement official or any other adult. That being said, when it comes to rulemaking and enforcement, take on the brunt of the duties yourself. It may be difficult for your child, depending on the situation, to adjust to having you as an authority figure, so ease into the process and try to avoid having your new partner take on a parent role during visits too soon.
The strength of the relationship you are able to maintain with your child may vary broadly based on your pre-existing relationship, how often you see one another and how you choose to spend that time together. However, it is completely possible to continue successful, mutually beneficial relationships with children who are not in your custody. For additional tips on improving relationships with your noncustodial children, consider contacting an attorney.