The emotional connection between a father and his daughter is an important aspect of their relationship and is linked to psychosocial developmental outcomes in the daughter's life, reports the study by Baylor University researchers, "Turning Points of Closeness in the Father/Daughter Relationship." Maintaining this connection may become difficult if the father moves away after divorce. Planning, perseverance and courage is required to maintain a long distance father-daughter relationship.
Reassure your daughter that you will always be there for her, no matter how far away you live. One of the best ways to help her adapt to divorce is to ensure that both parents continue to be involved in her life, according to the article, "Parenting After Separation or Divorce" on the Partnership for Children website. The fewer changes in your daughter's life, the better. Explain that there may be periods where you won't see each other, but that you will be thinking about her. Be honest and make only promises you can keep. Make a realistic schedule and stick to it. Keep your daughter's stress to a minimum by making sure she knows exactly when she will see you next.
Keep in touch regularly by phone and email. This allows your daughter to know you are thinking about her, even if you can't be there. Ask her what is going on in her life and what she has been up to at school and with friends. Avoid asking her to pass a message to her mother or fishing for information about her mother's personal life. If you need to communicate with your ex, do so directly.
Ensure you and your daughter have plenty of time together, just the two of you. Other relatives or family may be keen to see her, but your relationship is most important. If you are planning to invite others to join the two of you, tell your daughter about it in advance. Children cope with situations better when they know what to expect.
Avoid the temptation to do only fun stuff when your daughter is with you. Make time for fun, but involve her in household chores and regular day-to-day stuff, advises Sandra J. Bailey, family and human development specialist at Montana State University's Extension Service. This will remind her that you are still her parent, not just a buddy to hang out with on weekends.
Keep your feelings about a stepparent to yourself. No matter how much you dislike him, avoid letting your daughter know. She needs to make her mind up about him. Making her feel guilty or disloyal about getting on with her stepfather won't make anyone feel better about the situation, least of all your daughter. Try to think of a stepfather as a positive addition to her life.
Give your daughter paper or cards with stamped, self-addressed envelopes so she can write to you whenever she likes. Email her pictures of you on a weekly basis. Invest in a web cam or use Skype or FaceTime to chat face to face. Let her know she can call you at any time of the day or night.
- Partnership for Children: Parenting After Separation or Divorce
- Montana State University Extension: Nonresidential Parenting After Divorce
- Official Bannock County Website: Long Distance Parenting
- Turning Points of Closeness in the Father/Daughter Relationship; Elizabeth L. Barrett and Mark T. Morman
- Helpguide.org: Children & Divorce
- Helpguide.org: Tips for Divorced Parents
- Andrew Olney/Photodisc/Getty Images