Tip 4: Make Transitions and Visitation Easier
Every reunion with one parent is also a separation with the other, each “hello” also a “goodbye.” The actual move from one household to another, whether it happens every few days or just certain weekends, can be a very hard time for children. While transitions are unavoidable, there are many things you can do to help make them easier on your children.
When your child leaves
As kids prepare to leave your house for their other parent, try to stay positive and deliver them on time.
Help children anticipate change. Remind kids that they will be leaving for the other parent’s house a day or two before the visit.
Pack in advance. Depending on their age, help children pack their bags well before they leave so that they do not forget anything that they will miss. Encourage packing familiar reminders like a special stuffed toy or photograph.
Attempt to always drop off—not pick up the child. It is a good idea to avoid "taking" your child from the other parent so that you do not risk interrupting or curtailing a special moment. Drop off your child at the other parent’s house instead.
When your child returns
The beginning of your child’s return to your home can be awkward or even rocky. To help your child adjust:
Keep things low-key. When children first enter your home, try to have some down time together—read a book or do some other quiet activity.
Allow your child space. Children often need a little time to adjust to the transition. If they seem to need some space, do something else nearby. In time, things will get back to normal.
Double up. To make packing simpler and make kids feel more comfortable when they are at the other parent's house, have kids keep certain basics—toothbrush, hairbrush, pajamas—at both houses.
Establish a special routine. Play a game or serve the same special meal each time your child returns. Kids thrive on routine. If they know exactly what to expect when they return to you it can help the transition.
Dealing with visitation refusal
It is common that kids in joint custody sometimes refuse to leave one parent to be with the other.
Talk to the other parent. A heart-to-heart with your co-parent about the refusal may be challenging and emotional, but can help you figure out what the problem is. Try to be sensitive and understanding to the other person as you discuss this touchy subject.
Find the cause. The problem may be one that is easy to resolve, like paying more attention to your child, making a change in discipline style, or having more toys or other entertainment. Or it may be that an emotional reason is at hand, such as conflict or misunderstanding. Talk to your child about their refusal.
Go with the flow. Whether you have detected the reason for the refusal or not, try to give your child the space and time that they clearly need. It may have nothing to do with you. And take heart: most cases of visitation refusal are temporary.
THIS is the final part in a series of tips regarding co-parenting. Co-parenting amicably with the other parent can give your children the security, stability, and close relationships with both parents they need. For your the well-being of your children, it is possible for you to overcome co-parenting challenges and develop a polite working relationship with your co-parent.
If you found this information helpful, please browse the blog for additional tips for successful co-parenting and look forward to upcoming tips.
It is important to consult with an Attorney if you are preparing for a divorce involving children or you think that there has been a change in circumstances that should result in a new Custody or Parenting Time Order.
If you have questions regarding custody of your children, please call me, Attorney Steven Storrs, at 269-945-2242 or click here to contact me to set up an appointment to discuss your options.
*This blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult an attorney before making important decisions regarding your individual situation.