Indirect contact: how to get it right.

Last week we talked about the importance of indirect contact as a means of maintaining a connection between a child and their non-resident parent. But as with most things, when it comes to children and family, to make meaningful progress it’s got to be done properly.

If you’re a solicitor advising clients, or a parent currently trying to understand the workings of indirect contact, in this week’s blog you’ll find a few key ways in which you can get the most from it.

Make sure any gifts or cards are appropriate.

This is really important. In fact, it’s one of the most important things you can do to ensure that indirect contact is meaningful. You don’t want your relationship to be purely based on material things. By appropriate, we mean making sure that the gifts and cards aren’t too elaborate. Children shouldn’t be made to feel as though you’re trying to buy their love. You could risk being seen as disingenuous.

Make sure that the cards aren’t too overwhelming.

If the writing is full of emotion and discussions around what could have been, this isn’t going to help your child to move forward and make sense of the situation. Keep it light and meaningful. Talk to your child about what’s going well, about school and about their achievements. This will enable your child to understand and relate to what’s been said and avoids them feeling guilty or upset about not being able to talk to you directly.

Don’t make any promises.

The last thing you want to do is promise your child something that you can’t deliver. The reality is that you don’t know if you’ll be able to keep the promises you make. After all, decisions may often be out of your control.

For example, ‘I’ll see you soon’ could give your child false hope about meeting you. The court may not actually allow this for a significant amount of time. Always bear in mind that whatever your feelings on the situation, your child doesn’t have the ability to process a broken promise and the reasons behind it. Always keep it simple.

Don’t use the opportunity to undermine the other parent.

Indirect contact is about your child and your chance to develop a relationship with them. Using it as an opportunity to undermine the resident parent can be really damaging, particularly for your child.

For example, if you have more means than the resident parent to shower your child with numerous gifts the resident parent can’t usually afford, that’s going to look like you’re trying to one-up them. A child needs to have a healthy, balanced relationship with the both of you, no matter how that looks in terms of contact.

Make sure it’s meaningful.

This is what contact with your child is all about. If your gifts or letters aren’t meaningful, they won’t have a lasting impact. You need to show your child that you care about them, that you understand what they like, what they don’t like, and what’s important to them. That’s how you’re going to form a lasting connection with your child.

Going with Starting Point

The Starting Point Centre can be a perfect place for letters and gifts to be given, opened and explained. Contact centres are primarily child-centred environments that provide toys, games and facilities that reflect the diverse needs of children affected by family breakdown.

At Starting Point, we make it our priority to create a safe, friendly environment for your child to experience indirect contact and help to develop their relationships with you. If you’re looking for a contact centre that puts your child first, then get in touch with Starting Point today.

Or if you’re a solicitor with clients who’re struggling with indirect contact, refer them to some of the points we’ve made today, and don’t hesitate to send them our way.