Recent events in my own case and life have caused something to become readily apparent. It is darn near impossible to withstand the emotional part of long distance parenting without support of some kind. Ideally one would be surrounded by other long distance parents who understand first-hand but we seem to be few and far between.
I’m a member of a handful of email groups and I email back and forth with as many long distance parents as I am friends with and somehow manage to muster a bit of support. What amount I get from other long distance parents is invaluable. Even hearing their gripes and complaints somehow adds a sense that I am not alone in this.
Each email exchange with a long distance parent usually includes a ‘Dont give up’. It’s encouraging to hear that and becomes apparent, with a little bit of communication, that it really is necessary to give that encouragement to each other. Giving up would be easy. Just giving in and only sending child support and staying out of the child’s life is tempting when you have been slandered, backstabbed, lied to, manipulated and generally emotionally beat up in the divorce and custody process. Sure, it happens in every divorce – but in a long distance arrangement, it seems that there is more bitterness and feelings of entitlement on the part of the child’s primary custodian and their family. It seems as though they usually feel that if we are far away, it must mean we don’t desire to be a part of the child’s life and so they push us harder to step out altogether.
A parent who moves away, never to be heard from again, would be a parent who must not want to be in the child’s life. But no, a long distance parenting relationship, by definition is NOT when the long distance parent doesn’t want to be a part of the child’s life. If that were the case, there would be no relationship. Us long distance parents, we think of our kids all the time. We write them, call them, email them and see them as much as possible. It’s hard to be away from our kids. It’s even harder when what relationship we do have is made strained by the other parent and our person and lives take constant beatings because of their opinion of the path that we’ve chosen.
So yes, sometimes, it would be far simpler to give up – to just become one of the millions of ‘other parents’ who have nothing to do with their kids. It’s so very reassuring to hear ‘don’t give up’ from another parent who knows, first hand, how easy it would be to give up. It’s even reassuring to encourage someone else and tell them ‘don’t give up’ and know that they are getting the same comfort knowing you’ve been there.