If a parent cannot see a child directly, they can still remain in touch via things such as cards or letters, this is known as indirect contact.
Indirect contact can feel frustrating, perhaps even futile at times, but it’s worth pursuing as a contact parent or resident parent. It may be the best, or only, thing you can do for your child right now.
The benefits for children include:
- Knowing that they are cared about and have not been deserted
- Knowing that the contact parent is ‘doing okay’ (prevents feelings of guilt)
- Growing up with a sense of their own completeness – having two parents
- Developing a full sense of their own identity – drawing from both parents, their backgrounds, cultures, personalities and physical features
- Being able to easily resume direct contact at some time in the future
- Having a further possible source of support, advice or guidance
- Avoiding an unrealistic impression of the contact parent; children can create positive or negative fantasies, such as a father who will one day make everything all right or a witch-like mother who is ready to harm them: both these false ideas are bad for children (and can last way beyond childhood)
- Experiencing problem solving
Learning more about how to manage a relationship in difficult circumstances – this helps them in their own relationships when they are older. At least three people are involved in an indirect contact arrangement: the child, the person sending the indirect contact and the resident parent of the child. Both parents play a vital role with the resident parent being required to support and encourage the child in the correspondence.