Let’s begin by acknowledging that both parents have an obligation to ensure the child’s relationship with each other. This may not always play out well between separated parents, but the obligation remains. Making matters more challenging though is when there is a distance between the parents greater than commutable. Adding another layer to the challenge of facilitating a relationship between separated parents at a distance is the age of the child. Typically as well, these scenarios are often subject to considerable court action which really means there can be much anger and animosity between the parents.
While many parents rely upon video conferencing to augment or replace direct physical contact, video conferencing has its own challenges. Infants and toddlers cannot operate the equipment necessary to connect on their own, and they really won’t be interacting with the parent at a distance as much as allowing that parent the opportunity to view the child. The preschooler who may actually be able to press a connect button and sit in from of a screen will have a limited attention span or inclination or ability to carry on a meaningful conversation, so here too, video conferencing has limitations.
As for the school age child to adolescent, many find the use of video conferencing inconvenient and distracting from whatever else is going on at the time. The parent whose house the child is resident may also concern themselves that the video connection in their home feels intrusive to their life. Hence while video conferencing over the Internet sounds like quite a viable solution, it is fraught with considerable challenges. Overcoming those challenges requires quite a reasonable and facilitative relationship between the separated parents.
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Beyond video conferencing is direct physical contact. This requires considerable travel arrangements and depending on the age of the child, accompaniment to assure safe travel if the child is travelling between parents.
Depending on the age of the child, parents must also concern themselves about absences from the parent with whom the child primarily resides as extended absences can create considerable homesickness thus undermining the quality of the time together.
As is shown, these are complex matters. To best devise a plan in any circumstances then, parents must consider their degree of cooperation, age of the child and affordability of any plan.
As mentioned at the outset, both parents have an obligation to assure a child’s relationship with each other. That means both will typically share in the expense and the plan must be sensitive to the age and needs of the child as well as the capacity of the parents.
There is no one best plan in these circumstances. What is best is more a function of what the parents can actually agree to and make work. Hopefully, both will respect the child’s need to have as meaningful a relationship with both parents as possible. If parents can work on improving their relationship with each other, then they may see greater cooperation which serves everyone.