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It’s true that most little girls can wrap their dads right around their fingers from the start. As she grows and matures, that little girl will often still be daddy’s princess. When a divorce disrupts the lives of a father and daughter, coupled with a long-distance move, maintaining this relationship can be a challenge. “Studies suggest that when fathers don’t have regular and consistent contact with their children, that over time, daughters will begin to see their fathers in a more negative light,” says Christina Steinorth, a California-based psychotherapist and author of “Cue Cards for Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships.” “The best way to help minimize the chance of this happening is to maintain a regular presence in the lives of your daughters post-divorce. Simply stated, children need their fathers.” Stay connected with your daughter post-divorce with technology and regular planning to ensure your princess knows how much you care.
Consistency is key when helping your daughter cope with divorce and a long-distance father-daughter relationship. Steinorth suggests scheduling regular telephone conversations at least once a week and preferably at the same time each week. “Consistency helps build trust and therefore helps build your relationship,” she says.
Even though, as a father, you are not still living with your daughter, it’s possible to stay on top of her daily activities. Work with your former spouse to keep up-to-date on what is going on in your daughter’s life. “This way when you do call your daughter, you have more things to talk about and she will know from your questions and conversations that you are aware and interested about what is going on in her life,” says Steinorth.
Distance doesn’t have to keep the two of you apart for long periods of time. If possible, plan regular face-to-face visits to stay connected. “Involve your daughter in the planning of your visit, too,” says Steinorth. “It will give her something to look forward to, and planning your visit together gives you another activity to bond over.”
When visiting or chatting with your little princess, make sure that you give her the attention she needs. Turn off electronic devices and keep your focus on her and your time together. Keeping a consistent routine will also reassure her that you value the time you two have. If a conflict arises and you can’t make a scheduled chat or visit, alert your daughter ahead of time and make arrangements to reschedule right away.
Your daughter’s academic career is an important aspect of her life. Stay involved by attending school activities when you are available to travel and have regular phone conversations with your daughter’s teachers about her progress at school, says Steinorth. This will show your daughter that her academics are important to both parents, regardless of the distance between you and the family.
Luckily, technology makes it even easier for families to stay in touch. Online video conferencing, such as Skype, text messaging and social media offer opportunities for you and your daughter to communicate at any time. “While it doesn’t replace face-to-face contact, it’s a nice alternative when in-person contact isn’t possible,” says Steinorth.