The Family Project: Father relocating brings concern for son
Q: My ex-husband is moving out of state for work and our 10-year-old son is very upset. He is used to seeing his dad frequently. What can we do to help our son with this change?
It is perfectly natural for your son to be upset at this big change in his life said The Family Project panel. The most important thing is to ensure the boy maintains his good relationship with his father.
“You and the boy’s dad have to have a conversation about the relationship and what things are important. Recognize the enormity of this change for your son since his has been around so much and now will be around less frequently,” said panelist Mike Daniels.
It makes a difference how far away the ex-husband is moving. Is he moving one hour away or across the country, asked panelist Joanne Raftas.
“I am glad he has been seeing his father a lot. Now there needs to be a dialogue between the parents on how to move forward,” Raftas said.
This is a major loss for the boy and it may be his first experience that something like this can happen, said panelist Chad Stefanyak.
“He may be worried about what other types of things can happen. Find out if he has other questions or worries. He needs reassurance of consistency,” Stefanyak said.
At this age, the boy is starting to form his own identity, and it is very important that he maintains a strong relationship with his father, Raftas said.
“His father needs to show his son that he is valued,” said Raftas.
The panel agreed that technology offers many ways for father and son to stay in touch.
“It’s important he have a daily routine that connects him with his dad. Perhaps he could email or facetime his dad every morning. He needs to maintain some level of consistency,” Daniels said.
The panelists also suggested planning Zoom meetings, texting, talking on the phone or even writing a letter.
It would really good for the boy to see his father in person periodically, if visiting is something that would work out, Raftas added.
Although the panelists lauded your concern, they agreed that this is not your responsibility ultimately since you and your husband are not together.
“Dad is the one who really needs to keep this on track,” Raftas said.
Daniels noted that both parents should agree that the child is the most important person for each other.
“Let your own feelings stay out of it. Step back and take a deep breath,” Daniels said.
This week’s panel: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor; Mike Daniels, LCSW, Psychotherapist, and Joanne T. Raftas, registered play therapist and counselor.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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