For parents, the most difficult aspect of divorce may be the realization that they won’t have their kids home with them every night. Shared custody is the preferred norm when parents divorce, which means that the kids will split their time (as much as possible) between their parents’ separate homes.

How do you effectively parent from a distance? It may seem difficult at first, but you’ll be an old hand at the process pretty quickly if you follow these tips:

  1. Make good use of technology: Your parenting plan should address the use of technology by the kids when they aren’t with you. That way, their other parent can’t randomly restrict their phone or internet usage and interfere with your communications.
  2. Have regular, meaningful conversations: Give yourself and your children enough time to really connect during each conversation. Make an effort to ask about their friends, the games or genres they’re into right now, what televisions shows they like and so on. Don’t limit yourself to just checking on their homework and health.
  3. Ask to be included in important events: A FaceTime call or Skype visit on your birthday may not be as fulfilling as an in-person visit, but it’s a start — and it helps you stay involved in your kids’ lives.
  4. Plan some events together: If your child will soon be visiting, why not make some plans together for that time? It can help you better understand your child’s interests and spur on your conversations.
  5. Communicate as often as practical with your ex-spouse: When your ex-spouse is with the kids, they may observe something or know something important that you don’t. (Just make sure that you focus on the kids and not your fragmented relationship with your ex.)

If your ex-spouse is making long-distance parenting impossible and actively interfering with your relationship with your children, it may be time to speak to an experienced advocate who understands your concerns and can help you assert your rights.