In our blog series of extracts from Penelope Leach and associated research we next explore the concept of Contact at a distance. She writes:
"In this area of increasingly sophisticated communications parents and children can stay in touch with each other even when they cannot spend time together and it's important to realise how much this can help their relationships, even when practical circumstances are against them. The point of regular and frequent contact with the non-resident parent is to assure children that although he/she is no longer physically present in their home, their father/mother is still their father/mother and as loving, interested and concerned for them as ever".
When children are with their father on holiday for example, they "similarly need to know that although they are away from their mother she is still there for them".
In mediation we hear of parents stuggle to cope with their own feelings of loss and longing to see their children when they are with the primary carer, this is true for many
mothers and fathers we see as of course not all children are based with their mother these days.
Penelope Leach goes on to say " However desperately an absent parent misses being with a child in person - talking and listening, hugging and holding hands, playing games and washing faces - he/she can give this assurance in words and pictures - provided they are the right ones..
Not all the right one's will be hi-tec. Most children love getting mail and will be thrilled with letters, provided they are typed so that a child who can read at all can read them privately rather than having them read to him/her and that mum/dad doesn't expect a long screed in return. Picture postcards are fun to get and keep - your child might like an album to collect them in - and sending one back requires only a few written words".
It's also an option to give your child some stamped addressed postcards so he/she can write to you when they want to.