How to have a plan to take things slowly
How can parents reconcile with estranged children?
If you haven’t seen your children for a long time, there’s no way of knowing how they’ll react on seeing you again. They may feel resentful or they may jump at the chance. There may be all sorts of reasons why you lost touch and there also may be some issues that you need to address about your feelings, priorities or lifestyle to help restore contact. Get back in touch and talk things through with your ex and the children first. The sooner you do so, the sooner you can start to rebuild contact.
Children can feel torn between wanting to get to know you better, whilst remaining loyal to the parent who has raised them. On the other hand, you need to prepare yourself for your child not wanting contact with you at first. If you still want to remain an influence in your children’s lives, there is information and support out there to help you deal with the issues that may be affecting you.
If you want to change the situation, don't let things drift anymore. Either parent can talk to one of the Family Support Workers at the charity Family Lives through its confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222 (details below) to help you build bridges and confidence with your children and your ex. If you’ve moved away from easy contact with your children, arrange visits for weekends and holidays. You may be able to arrange to have them for longer at those times, too.
Keeping in touch
Consider finding a halfway spot you can meet at for the handover to cut down on travel costs for both of you. It’s a good idea to give your children a calendar, marked with the dates when you’ll be seeing each other. Send texts, emails, postcards and letters so they can have lots of reminders that you love them and are thinking of them. Be careful to stick to the arrangements you made and make every effort not to cancel or change them as this is really disappointing for the children. It’s not just parents and children who hurt when contact arrangements fall down.
The stability offered by grandparents and other relatives, such as aunts and uncles, can be such a help to children when their family changes, but it can make the situation even more difficult if they hear hostility or criticism when what they need is unreserved love and support. Grandparents and other relatives may find it difficult to stand back and not get involved with family arguments over separation, but it’s essential that they do. Nothing is more devastating than losing contact with your grandchildren completely. If you are a grandparent in this situation, consider contacting your son- or daughter-in-law to say that you are sorry for any past arguments and would just like to see your grandchildren.
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Bounty is proud to bring you this information in partnership with www.familylives.org.uk. Family Lives is a charity with over three decades’ experience helping parents to deal with the changes that are a constant part of family life.
Comments on this article are monitored but NOT answered. However, Family Lives has extensive advice on their website, live chat services, and information about befriending services and parenting/relationship support groups. There is also a helpline and an online community forum offering a safe space for families to share dilemmas, experiences and issues with others who understand the ups and downs of family life. https://www.familylives.org.uk/how-we-can-help/forum-community/