Whether it is your choice or not, you are among the many parents who do not have custody of their children. Maintaining a relationship with them can be difficult, especially if you are parenting from a distance. However, it is possible, and here are some ideas.
Avoid speaking negatively about the other parent
Depending on the circumstances of the relationship breakup, you may have few good things to say about your children's other parent. Your children should never hear bad things about their parent from you, though. It alienates the kids and makes them feel guilty. Plus, if word gets back to the other parent, that is one fewer reason he or she has to grant you a favor. Similarly, try to avoid badmouthing anyone the other parent is dating or has married. Children tend to do best when their parents present a united front.
Focus on your time together
Rather than using the little time you have with your children to speak badly about the other parent, use it for quality activities. Some TV watching may be okay, but it is time to get creative. For instance, if you have a lot of chores that need to get done, have your child help you do them rather than doing them yourself while the child does his or her own thing. Cooking dinner, fixing a car and folding the laundry can actually be fun if you have the right company. Likewise, signing up for a weekly bowling league or another activity gives both you and your child something to look forward to and a chance to bond.
Create a parenting plan
It is a good idea to have a parenting plan in place. It dictates how you can continue to be involved in your children's lives, for example, through weekly video chats and phone calls, and through lengthy holiday and summer visits. At the very least, a plan is a surefire way to stave off conflict with your child's other parent. A well-designed blueprint leaves very little or no room for misunderstanding. Your obligations as far as, say, child support, are clear, as are the issues you are authorized to act on (whether you have a say in the school your child attends is one possibility).
As a noncustodial parent, it is likely that you miss your children tremendously. An attorney can help you draw up a parenting plan that will never leave you questioning whether you get to see your children soon.