Surviving an Extended Non Custodial Visit – Teens and Adult Children of Divorce

Tips for Teen aged and Adult Children of Divorce:

  • If you feel like your custodial parent is being short with you in the days leading up to your leaving, understand that they are going through a lot of difficult feelings (sadness, worry, anxiety) and they simply aren’t expressing themselves properly.  They probably want to tell you but are worried that it would be viewed as them being unsupportive of your relationship with your other parent.  When people don’t know how to express themselves, they do weird things.  And if you have been feeling anxious about going as well, you might be doing the same thing.  It’s okay to say, “Mom/Dad, I’m totally excited but also kind of nervous about going.”  You might be surprised at the response you get.
  • Conversely, you may find your custodial parent overly affectionate or weepy in the days preceding your leaving.  Again, they aren’t dealing with their feelings in a manner that does any of you any good.  You could set some boundaries and deal with it head on, but it will probably be easier to just get through it, reassure them and get going.
  • When you arrive, be prepared for awkwardness all the way around, especially if your parent is remarried.  It just happens.  No one knows how to act or what to do.  No one is sure of their roles or where they fit anymore and that can be scary as hell.  It’s not your fault and no, it’s not something you should have to deal with but it’s also something that you don’t need to exacerbate.  Do your part.  Be polite.  You will all muddle through it together.
  • Remember, you are only getting a snapshot of your parent and his/her family’s life.  Whether you love it or hate it, it isn’t completely real.  Because you are a guest, and none of us are completely ourselves when we have guests in our home.  And they aren’t really getting an accurate view of you either.  It doesn’t mean you are being fake, it means you are normal.  You don’t have to resent a natural reaction to the circumstance.  The goal is to feel natural together, but that’s not a requirement for a successful visit.
  • Watch your words.  And by that I mean how much you share, both while you are there and when you go back home.  I know how much you want to gush about everything, but you may end up hearing it back and wish you hadn’t shared so much.  It’s strange maneuvering through two separate but equally loved families.  The boundaries become fuzzy – believe me, I know. I’m not a fan of encouraging people to measure their every word, and you don’t need go that far.  Just realize that your dad probably doesn’t need to know about that time you were bra shopping with mom and your mom doesn’t need to hear about how your dad looked in his bathing suit.
  • Enjoy yourself! This time with your parent is precious and you need to get as much out of it as you can.  I know it’s not fair. Being young and growing up is hard enough without having to think and deal with all of this.  It’s not easy having to leave your friends, job, home and life to visit someone you may see only a couple of times a year.  But they are your parent, and it may not seem so important now, but it will one day.  You don’t want to look back with regrets.  So put a smile on your face, tell your parent all about what you’ve been up to and get in all the memories you can.  Hopefully you’ll find one day that you treasure them.

Back to the main article: How to Prepare For, Survive and Enjoy Extended Non Custodial Visits

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How to Prepare For, Survive and Enjoy Extended Non Custodial Visits — The Grown Up Child
May 3, 2010 at 2:18 am

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