Thinking about starting over somewhere else? Take a look at eight good reasons you shouldn’t move away from your kids.
During a divorce, your kids are often the ones who are affected the most. You and your ex understand why your relationship had to come to an end, but your children don’t always see it the way you do, especially if they are young. If you are the non-custodial parent, you may feel like moving away to get away from the overwhelm of the divorce, but that is not necessarily the best road to take. And if your ex is thinking about relocating with your kids, this would be a good time to put a stop to it.
Why You Might Consider Moving Away
There are a number of reasons why you may move away from your kids after your divorce. Like I mentioned above, you may want to get away from it all and feel like moving away is the best option. You might be from another state or country and feel the need to move back home for support. Perhaps you got a job offer that is hard to resist, or even met another woman while you were on a trip somewhere, or are starting a relationship with someone in another state.
Why You Shouldn’t Move Away from Your Kids
There are lots of reasons why you might consider moving away after your divorce, but that decision has the potential to be harmful to your relationship with your kids. Here’s what could happen.
1. It Could Strain Your Relationship
If you move away from your kids, there is no question that you will miss big events and important milestones in their life. When you miss these important events, your kids may start to feel like you don’t care and aren’t invested in the relationship. They need you there for not only the big events but smaller achievements and even just day-to-day experiences that build your relationship stronger. Chats about their struggles at school, picking them up from their extra-circulars and helping them with homework. Once your relationship becomes strained, it is hard to get it back on track, and being close in proximity is one of the main things you can do to keep your relationship strong.
2. It Causes Emotional Stress
It is already going to be tough staying in a different house than your kids, let alone moving miles away. Both you and your children need each other to physically be there to help with the emotional stress of the divorce. You need to see each other, hug each other and talk to each other face-to-face on a regular basis to make the situation easier for both of you. It is extremely important you are together for birthdays, holidays, recitals or sports games, and it is a lot more meaningful if you are there for it all rather than stopping into the city when you can.
3. You May Get Alienated
This one depends on your relationship with your ex and the type of person she is, but if she already wants to keep your kids all to herself, you leaving is not going to help the situation. She may tell your kids you don’t care about them and don’t want to be near them anymore, and tell them not to have contact with you. If you have a toxic ex, who talks badly about you to your children, you are going to want to have as much in-person contact with them as possible to make sure you offer positive, loving experiences that don’t match what your ex is saying about you.
4. It Affects Their Physical and Mental Health
A study published in The Journal of Family Psychology found that children of divorced parents who lived at least an hour-drive away from one of the parents are significantly less well-off mentally and physically than children whose parents did not relocate after divorce. They also found children had a better rapport with both parents when they both stayed close by, and had better overall health. This study makes it clear that children are strongly affected by the distance of one of their parents during a divorce and need both their parents in close proximity to lead a healthy lifestyle.
5. Your Bond May Break (Especially If They’re Young)
Think about the age of your children. Are they old enough to know who you are, have you formed a close enough bond with them to be seen as their father figure? If your child is two or three and just developing a bond with you, you do not want to risk breaking that bond. If you move away from your kids, instead of seeing them multiple times a week, you may only see them a couple times a year, and if you leave before that bond develops, you may never have a strong relationship with your kids.
6. They Need You As a Role Model
Kid’s parents are often their biggest role models. They see you as prominent, strong and loving figures in their life and they admire you for what you do and who you are. They look up to you and rely on your guidance when they need to make choices and decisions. It is more difficult to be a role model when you live hours away and barely see them. Even with technologies like Skype and FaceTime, you can be more of a prominent figure and role model when you are physically in their life.
7. They May Wonder If It Was Their Fault
Kids have wild imaginations and sometimes blame themselves when something doesn’t go right. If you move away, they may think it was their fault and wonder what they did to make you leave. Even if you tell them you are not moving because of them, they still have a mind of their own and may make up reasons for your relocating in their head. They may think they did something bad or that you don’t care about them anymore, which is hard to come to terms with as a child, even if it is not true. They are already going through a lot of emotional distress from the divorce, and putting the blame on themselves is only going to make it worse.
8. Your Relationship May Fade
This may be the worst of all. If you move away from your kids, you may see them so little that they become a distant part of your life. The more you see someone, the closer you are to them and the stronger relationship you share. You may make a considerable effort to visit them in the first couple years, but over time people get busy, and the distance may get to be more of a hassle. You may start seeing them less and less, and once that relationship gets weaker, it is possible that neither side will put in their effort to make it work. There won’t be any hard feelings, just the understanding that you are not a big part of each other’s lives anymore because neither is making the time or effort to see each other in person.
Deciding to move away from your children can be life altering for you and for them. Don’t let the pain of divorce push you into a rushed decision. Your life, and theirs, is worth taking the time to consider the long-term results of your choices.