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Ideally, parents need to set up a pattern of contact which is consistent and relatively predictable and which helps to allay the initial insecurities of all concerned. However, it is also important that the children should be able to contact their non-custodial parent themselves if they are old enough, so that their relationship is not entirely encapsulated within the fixed period of an access visit. A nine-year-old boy whom I met travelling alone on a train proudly showed me a set of stamped addressed letter-cards his
father had given him to use whenever he just felt like saying hello, or wanted his father to telephone.
Have you used any yet?’
Only once, but I always know they are there.’
When both parents still live reasonably close to one another, children may begin to take arrangements into their own hands, popping round for advice about homework or simply to see what is going on. Sometimes ground rules are needed if they do not tell anyone where they are going or if they are obviously playing one parent off against the other.