Getting Together Over Video

Nobody ever gets married with the vision of a future filled with divorce, and no one ever has children with the idea that they will not legally be able to spend every moment of those kids’ life with them, and that is how it should be. We can only hope that everyone who gets married and has children do so with the best of intentions, and if divorce occurs, we can only hope that all parties make plans to handle it with as much grace and optimism. What no one could ever have imagined in their wildest dreams was how the Global Pandemic would disrupt all those well-intentioned plans.

We are still in the thick of it. We have missed almost all the big holidays with our extended families, which is hard enough. Christmas without Grandma’s hugs seems like a travesty! But what if stay-at-home orders or quarantine prevents parents from seeing their kids!? Sure, it’s painful for the divorced parents, but without care taken-this time can cause damage to those relationships with our kids we work so hard to create and maintain.

Fortunately, this didn’t happen before we were connected by the internet, personal computers, and smartphones that utilize the technology of both. Imagine a toddler going nine months without hearing his mom or dad’s voice had this happened “back in the day,” like even 15 years ago! The kid would have trouble recognizing the absentee parent, and that parent would have missed so many growth milestones! With so many negatives associated with social media and internet obsession, the silver lining is that at LAST, those things are finally making themselves useful by providing authentic, meaningful connections between families.

Most parents have had to be partially responsible for the kids’ education while school was mandatorily closed. Because of that, everyone has had to step up to the plate about learning to use video-calling and teleconferencing. Many school systems have even provided the kids with the tablets or laptops to do this with! Once you know how to connect your kids with online classes and set up learning programs, it becomes so much easier to set up video calling between dearly missed loved ones or parents who cannot see their kids during the pandemic.

This needs to be an absolute priority for the custodial parent, and it can seem rough on top of all the other stuff you are being burdened on during the global crises. So what, you have to keep the kids alive, healthy, fed, AND educated, plus find time in the day to make sure your ex can facetime or Zoom them? This without scheduling in shower and bathroom breaks for yourself? The answer, for everyone’s sake, is yes! If you want healthy kids with stable relationships and an appreciation of family, then both parents need to get on board the virtual train regularly.

No one needs to go into how valuable setting up a structured routine is for children because we have already done so in blogs past. Parenting experts agree that since the routine of school and custody, playdates, and after-school activities have ground to a halt, kids are floundering in the “new normal” to find acceptable ways to be. Setting up education time and playtime is undoubtedly essential but establishing a regular call time for face-to-face talks with a parent they are not seeing enough of is another way of establishing that routine. Make it clear they can call at any time—but that these regular video appointments will be happening regardless, even if it’s just to check-in, every day. It will become something everyone can look forward to, including parents on duty. That could be the time they schedule that shower!

This is also a valuable tool around the holidays, where we idealize the concept of familial togetherness. In years past, relatives from out of the area would call on the holiday day, and the phone would get passed around so that everyone would get a chance to say a few words. NOW, everyone and their uncle can join one of these video calls/conferences and enjoy a toast and a story while looking at the faces of their loved ones. It has been made so easy that even grandma can do it! By being creative, you might be able to arrange for everyone to open presents simultaneously or enjoy the same cookies so that you can make new memories that aren’t about how far apart we are—but what we can share because technology has allowed us to.


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