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CHKD Blog

Happy dad reuniting with his children.

Children and Divorce: Going the Distance

Recent estimates show that about 40 percent of births in the U.S. occur outside of marriage, and as high as 50 percent of married couples eventually divorce.

This will usually result in one or both parents having a significant amount of time away from their child. How much time you spend with your child may be a mutually agreed upon settlement. In some cases, it is imposed by the courts or by the other parent.

When there is a breakdown in the parents’ relationship, many times there can be a breakdown in communication and respect. One parent may try to place the other parent in a bad light. Some parents choose to detach from the child because they would rather not deal with the other parent or any conflict. It’s important to remember that a breakup or a divorce does not mean you should break up with or divorce your child. There are articles and studies about the negative impact a child may experience when they are distanced from a caring parent.

While all parents appreciate and need breaks, extended time away from your child can affect your mental health, too. If you feel like you are being kept from your child, it may lead to feelings of anguish, despair, guilt, blame, loneliness, and depression. There is nothing that fills that relationship void when you miss your child. If this is something you are going through, be truthful about how the separation makes you feel, then learn and implement coping strategies.

  • Prepare yourself to survive the distance. Take good care of yourself physically and mentally.
  • Don’t be ashamed or suppress your feelings. Talk to someone who knows and cares about you.
  • Validate your feelings. Missing your child means you love them. That’s something to be proud of.

If you have ever flown in a plane, you have probably heard the flight attendant’s pre-flight instructions for those traveling with children. The flight attendant explains that in the event of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop down from overhead. Adults are to place the oxygen mask over their own nose and mouth first, before helping their child. It’s similar with other parenting situations. You cannot give strength if you are weak. You cannot give what you don’t possess.

Apply coping strategies when you are feeling the distance from your child. This will help you to stay mentally healthy and survive, so you can continue to be the best parent you can be for the long haul.

Be sure to check out CHKD.org/Classes and register for a free webinar on children and divorce to be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 29.



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About Jabari Colon

About Jabari  Colon

Jabari Colon is a single father to four children aged 7 to 18 years old. Jabari coordinates a program that aims to increase community college acceptance rates for high school graduates. He also serves as a family support specialist and positive behavior specialist for at-risk youth and their families and leads and facilitates a psycho-social self-development program for youth and parents. While he assists parents by teaching and sharing best practices, he continuously seeks opportunities to grow as a father himself.