Long Distance Families

long-distance

You’ve heard of LDR’s (Long Distance Relationships) and people say they never work.  So why do we think it’s any easier for a child and a parent to have a Long Distance Family?

When I got divorced, I remember thinking it was strange that there was a section in the paperwork dedicated to whether or not I would be allowed to move out of the county.  In our case it didn’t apply because my ex had already moved to another city.  But at the time I had no idea how important this distance factor could be.  Now I’ve seen it play out in 3 different situations, each with it’s own lesson.

Scenario 1 – As I mentioned, my ex moved out of town right away.  To be honest I was glad.  When we split it was my belief that our 2 boys would be better off with their father as far away as possible.  Over the past few years I’ve learned that I was wrong.  No matter what mistakes their father makes, they still love and need him to be a part of their lives.  The fact that they rarely see him hurts them all the time.I’ve seen the pain in their eyes when they see other dads move heaven and earth to spend time with their children.  Distance hurts the kids, no matter what.

Scenario 2 – A couple very close to my heart divorced and the mom moved with their daughter to the other side of the country.  Now I see this father scrambling to afford to visit his child.  I can only guess that the mom believed the life she would be providing their daughter would make it worth the distance.  Again I see this causing so much pain, both for the dad and the daughter.  I wonder how that mom will feel if/when the girl gets older and decides she wants to go live with dad.  Many kids make this decision during the teen years, and I can’t help but think that only then will this mom understand the ramifications of her decision to move so far away.

Scenario 3 – Even when the distance isn’t as great, it can cause a great deal of stress when parents move.  One of my Ex-Wife-In-Laws lives 50 miles away from us.  We both contributed to this commuter headache as she moved one direction and we moved in the opposite direction to be closer to work.  It’s easy to spread out when you live in a large metro area.  The problem from my perspective is that this mom adheres firmly to the rules that it is our responsibility to pick up and drop our son for our designated weekends, and she’s fairly strict about the time.  There is a lot of traffic between her house and ours, especially on Friday nights, where it can be a 3 hour endevour to make this trip.  The fact that this mom refuses to meet us in the middle or throws a fit any time we run late does not go unnoticed by her son.  And yes, it frustrates me at times to feel like the only one making an effort. But the more serious issue here, I think, is that this boy will come to resent his mom for trying to make it difficult for him to see his dad.

What’s striking me from all 3 of these situations is this – anyone who tries to prevent a relationship between a child and their parent is risking great resentment from that child.  So even if you must live far away from your ex, these 3 things will make the distance less of a barrier…

1 – Pray for your child’s other parent.  Pray for blessings in their lives.  Pray that their hearts will be softened, their eyes will be opened, their wisdom increased to improve the situation.

2 – Give a little.  It won’t kill you to make the drive or buy the plane ticket every once in a while.  If it’s important to your child, it’s worth it to you to let go of any bitterness that’s preventing you from showing a little kindness.

3 – Communicate.  Allow your child to call/text/email their other parent without restrictions.  If you can, keep the lines of communication between you and your ex open as well.

Just because we’re no longer in love with the ex doesn’t mean we can’t treat them with at least as much love and kindness as we would show a friend.  We must respect the fact that both parents will always be the most important persons in our children’s lives, regardless of the distance.

(post archived from Mar. 21, 2013)

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