Serving in the United States military presents with it a range of difficult circumstances that families have to be able to overcome together as a unit. Perhaps the most difficult circumstance among them is that you as a military member are not able to spend as much time with your children as you would normally like to. Even though you are serving your country and are benefiting from the personal experiences inherent in military service that cannot make up for the fact that you are losing time with your children. As a result, feeling like you are hurting your relationship with your child is a part of military service that for many parents is unavoidable.
Couple that with already being in a divided household due to a past divorce and you as a military member parent likely feel even more disconnected from your kids. Going through a difficult divorce was hard enough but now that you have been deployed across the world away from your kids you are very rarely able to see them in person due to your job responsibilities and the sheer physical distance between the two of you. What can you do to spend quality time with your kids under circumstances that are incredibly trying and stressful? That is what I would like to spend today's blog post discussing with you. Namely, what tips and tricks are out there for you to take advantage of when it comes to you building a strong relationship with your kids during your period of deployment.
Designating someone else to take your time with the kids while you were deployed
Hopefully you are in a position where you were able to anticipate that you would be deployed at some point in your military career. If so, then you likely included language in your final decree of divorce that allow for another competent adult to step into your position and spend time with your kids while you are deployed. Weather if he your sibling, parent or other family member your child can benefit from an arrangement like this even if you are not able to be the one, he or she spends time with.
It may even be the case that you were required to put language in your final decree which specified the adult who would be able to step into your shoes while on deployment in order to spend time with your children in your absence. You should review the language in your final decree of divorce and make sure that you are familiar with it so that you are comfortable with any visitation arrangements with your children while you are overseas.
The person who is stepping into your shoes for this period of time can send you updates about your children; photos of the time spent together and can generally act as your surrogate while you are overseas. This can be a tremendous advantage for you to have someone in your corner who can work with your kids and help them too keep a connection with you while you are overseas. The more you are able to communicate with your family member the more quality visitation sessions he or she can have with your children.
When it comes time for your deployment to come to an end you can then resume normal visitation based on your parenting plan. You may even be able to negotiate some make up visitation with your co-parent as you are able. Being able to make up the time loss with your child is an important aspect of resuming life after deployment and I have some advice on how to do that affectively with the co-parent.
Working with a co-parent too schedule make up visitation time after a deployment
Once you are back in the United States and are able to plan your schedule a little bit better you can begin to work with your co-parent, if you choose, to schedule make up visitation time with your child. If you have been following the plan set forth in your final decree of divorce where another adult has had visitation time during your previously scheduled periods of visitation then you may not be able to schedule much personal, make up time with your child. However, you can always ask your co-parent to see how he or she feels about you having additional time with your child since you have been gone for so long.
The best way to do this is to directly address the subject with your co-parent and then wait for him or her to have a response. In in dating him or her with your feelings or thoughts on the subject will not accomplish near as much as you would like. Rather, I would spend a lot of the conversation listening to what the co-parent has to say and being patient with his or her thoughts. Do not be surprised if your request is met with some pushback. After all, your co-parent has had to do the day-to-day child rearing on their own for the duration of your deployment. He or she may be stressed out more than normal due to the increased share of responsibilities that he or she has had to shoulder while you have been gone.
A smart thing to do would be too ask your co-parent how you can Help him or her right now with parenting responsibilities on a daily basis. This is assuming that you have resumed a civilian like schedule and may even have completed you're a military career. in your transition back into civilian life you will hopefully find that your schedule is a lot more open and able to take on responsibilities when it comes to the daily needs of your child. Again, I think you would be best served by asking your co-parent how you can shoulder additional burdens when it comes to child rearing rather than simply ask for more time with your child. Showing concern for your co-parent may end up scoring you more time with your child than simply asking would have done by itself.
Whatever make up time you are able to negotiate with your co-parent should be done with specificity in mind. By this I mean that you should make an effort to write down whatever the make-up visitation schedule will look like. do not rely on your memory or on the good graces of your co-parent. Rather come up with some confines of the visitation So that you all are able to predict and expect when the period will start in stop and any other details associated with the logistics of these makeup sessions.
While any agreement that you come up with is outside of the confines of a court order I think you all can avoid surprises by inserting specific language into your agreement and utilizing a timeline rather than Hoping that everything works out in the end as far as these periods of Visitation are concerned. A big lesson that I tried to share with clients a great deal when it comes to coordinating make up visitation with a coparent is this: to be unclear is to be unkind. What I mean is that you should not leave it up to chance that you are plans for visitation end up working out.
Rather, I think that you would be better off being clear with your co-parent about what your expectations are regarding a start and stop time to each make up. , the responsibilities each parent plays in transporting your child back and forth as well as any other information that may be relevant to the time period with a make-up visitation will occur. It is an unfortunate reality of this time period where we need to be especially aware of risk to the health of our children. You all should go over any questions you have about keeping your children safe for my health perspective in discussing the concerns prior to these make up visitation periods beginning.
Technology as a last resort to stay close to your child while deployed
in the entrance of transparency, I think it is relevant for me to take note that I am not a huge fan of technology. Yes, like most of us I do have a smartphone and do work on the Internet a great deal of the day. However, I do not view technology as a substitute for person to person interaction Then he would rarely find me on my phone especially when my children are around. With that said, I realized that those of you who were on deployment do not have many options for interacting with her children while abroad.
With that said, I realize that you have few choices when trying to stay close to your child when you are not within arm’s reach of him or her. As such, you should utilize technology as best you are able to bridge the gap between you and your child. You probably don't need me to inform you about all the different ways available to us to communicate with someone who was not physically near us. In fact, the coronavirus pandemic has probably increased the ability of people to build relationships when being close physically is not possible.
If utilizing technology Is something you would like to implement with your children while you are overseas on deployment, then I would recommend you do so as early on in the process as possible. Depending on the age of your children They may or may not be as willing or able to acclimate to technology-based relationship building as another child would be. You should do your best to attempt to work with him or her on any challenges presented by technology and to determine whether or not this is the feasible way for your child to grow in their relationship with you. I think we all tend to assume that children will be more receptive to using technology in these ways based on their having grown up with a phone in their hands and a television in their face. However, I know personally how some children take to technology very well and others do not.
The bottom line is that you should take advantage of any opportunity you can too build your relationship with your child despite the circumstances going on around you. Children are experts at determining who in their lives makes an effort to spend time with him or her and who does not. Most children are also understanding of the fact that you cannot be with them but that you are making an effort to do what you can give your realities to spend time with him or her. You may be surprised to learn that your child appreciates you making the effort to spend time with him or her in a phone call more than he or she did while you were in the states. there is a degree of difficulty factor that I think children pick up on When it comes to parents making an effort to build a relationship with them.
Even though you may feel left out of your child's life you cannot use that as an excuse do not attempt to build a relationship with him or her while you are overseas on deployment. Make the best of a difficult Situation and you will simultaneously improve the nature of relationship with your child and teach him or her valuable lessons about maintaining a positive attitude despite adversity.
Questions about the materials presented in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material presented in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone and via video. These consultations are a great opportunity for you to learn more about Texas family law and about the services that we provide to our clients. Thank you for your interest in our law office and we hope that you will join us again tomorrow here on our blog.