• Victoria Carter has been involved in early childhood education for more than 20 years including editing a parenting magazine.
Christmas is a time when many families are not together.
For many dads who are separated it can be also be a lonely time not being able to see their children.
No matter how young your child is, there are lots of ways you can stay connected. And it's very important you do stay in your child's life.
Here are some ways to stay in touch with your children no matter what their age.
I had enormous distance from my Dad in England when my parents separated and my Mother came to New Zealand. Even before we left, my Dad's communication with us was irregular.
One long-standing memory was when I was four, and Mum was at work. He came to tell my brother and me that he wouldn't see us for a very long time.
He gave me a book and some Smarties. I remember feeling very sad, alone and confused.
So to all those parents who are separated from their children, here are some tips on what might make your child feel important, loved, valued and still a part of your life.
The most obvious and commonsense message is to stay in touch and be regular about it.
Even though you may no longer have weekends with your child, use that time to write a letter or make a phone call. Letters and cards are a great and inexpensive way to stay in touch. For your child there is the excitement of not knowing when another letter might be in the mailbox.
I often suggest postcards because they are so easy to fill and there is such variety.
You can send cards based on different themes and explain the theme for them. You would be amazed how many cards of baby animals there are for smaller children.
And if you aren't very good at writing or don't know what to say they are a smaller space to fill.
What do you write? Write about ordinary things - your pet, the tree changing colour in your garden, how you had an ice-block and it made you remember a time with your child.
I say to friends not to ask too many questions but let the child still feel part of your life by sharing what's going on in your life.
Don't tell them about your girlfriend.
You could buy a special box the next time you are together and tell your child this is the box for them to keep all their letters, cards and other special stuff you send.
Remember, if you do phone, that your child, particularly younger children, may not have a lot to say, so have lots of questions handy, and use the answers as leads to ask more about what is going on.
And if your child seems a bit silent then tell them what is going on in your life, what you do most days, helping them to imagine you in your new setting.
Don't forget to tell your child how much you miss them. (My Dad never did, so as a kid I assumed he didn't. Now as an adult I've heard a lot about how much he actually did).
NEVER forget birthdays. Too often I hear how important that action is and how often it was forgotten. I waited for two days after my 21st hoping my Dad would phone despite having had a lovely party with friends and family. But it really mattered to me to hear from what I called my "real" Dad.
You will ALWAYS be an important man in your kid's life, don't think otherwise. You are their dad and no matter how good a stepfather may be, no one can take your place.
Saying good bye is horrible. If it feels awful for you, know that your child is feeling it just as much, if not more, because they can't use adult thinking to process it. And they may not have the words to try to tell you.
Don't forget, however hard it is to stay in touch, it means so much to your child and will make them feel loved and treasured. Make the effort and it will help to keep your connection alive.