For many people, divorce leads to long-distance parenting. According to the National Center for State Courts, nearly one-quarter of the nearly 18 million children of divorce have a parent living in another city. In addition, an estimated 75% of single mothers will move at least once within four years after divorce or separation. As a result, nearly 10 million children do not have frequent in-person interaction with one parent.
While this distance dilemma resulted in an emotionally difficult holiday season in the past, times have definitely changed. Divorced parents who live in a different city or even overseas are now able to use virtual visitation methods to connect with their children during the December holidays and maintain a close and loving relationship.
Below are some online mediums that you can use to celebrate with your kids and let them know that you’re thinking of them even when you’re miles away.
Online video chat
Skype, FaceTime, and webcam chatting allow you to see the kids (and vice-versa) and enjoy real-time conversations. You can decorate the tree, light Menorahs, and/or open your presents together. If you’re streaming on a portable device like a phone or tablet, then you can give them a virtual tour of your decorated home or apartment.
It doesn’t have to end there. Smaller children would enjoy having a bedtime story read to them while older kids and teens can use help with their pre-break homework. Video chat can fill a void that previous generations had no choice but to live with.
Watch movies together
Kast allows multiple users to “share” a browser. When you and your kids are logged in, you can not only watch YouTube and Netflix movies together: you can also play games and even sync documents, allowing you to help them with their homework and more.
To make the experience more personal, you can opt for MyCircleTV, which has VoIP capabilities. This means that you can enjoy voice chat as you watch YouTube, Vimeo, and DailyMotion videos together. You can set up a playlist of holiday videos and share laughter and memories in real-time.
Go holiday shopping together
Watch2Gether is another shared platform. It’s easy—and free—to set up a private room and send your kids the link. Once they’re in, you can go shopping together on Amazon, all the while conversing in the integrated chatroom. They will love the opportunity to help you choose gifts for siblings, grandparents, and other relatives.
Virtual visitation has proven to be so effective for connecting geographically-distant parents and children that family courts in many states order it to be included in parenting plans. While this is not yet a requirement in New York, digital connection does not have to be legally mandated to benefit everyone involved.
Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, New York family court and divorce lawyer. He regularly handles visitation and child custody cases. Mr. Lutzky offers free in-office initial consultations. Call 718-329-9500 to set up an appointment.