Strengthening a child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent

Living away from one parent can be a huge change in a child’s life, and both parents should do a few things to encourage the relationship.

During or after a divorce in Glendale, custody determinations can go several ways. For example, children might live with one parent most of the time and have occasional stays with the noncustodial parent. On the other hand, the time division between both parents might be about half and half. In some situations, the mother or father all but vanishes from a child's life. When possible, both figures should encourage positive relationships between children and their noncustodial parents.

Do "little" things to give the noncustodial parent more time

Parents with primary custody can do quite a few "small" things that add up. They include packing (or having the child pack) clothes that are clean so that there is no need for the other parent to do a small load of laundry. Also, sending information such as doctor's appointments, sports game schedules, recital dates and the like gives both parents the opportunity to attend their children's events.

Be flexible, and make room for treats

Perhaps the child, and the parent he or she does not live with, really want to see a baseball game or take in a play on one of the custodial parent's days. If at all possible, the custodial parent should work to accommodate such a request. The primary goal should be to put children first, and allowing treats such as a special outing go a long way. Children feel safe and secure when they recognize that both parents truly care about them.

Create a long-distance plan if necessary

Sometimes, the child may be in one city, having moved with the custodial parent, while the other parent lives several hours away. In such long-distance situations, a plan helps keep the relationship operating smoothly; a counselor can be of great help in developing one. Parents should consider factors such as regularly scheduled videophone chats and chances for expanded time on holidays. It is also essential that the custodial parent have the child ready on time for flights or car pickups.

Treat each other nicely

One of the best things both parents can do is to be kind to each other-or at least civil. This means not arguing about visitation in front of the children, and it means respecting the other's parenting style. Constructive suggestions, offers of help and shared photos set the stage for healthy children and are much better than constantly putting down the other parent, or forcing the child to act as an intermediary.

California encourages parents to establish their own custody agreements. Doing so can be tricky, as there are many considerations. Also, emotions may be running high. Enlisting the aid of an attorney may result in a plan that is fair and effective.