Surviving Extended Non Custodial Visits – Custodial Parents

Tips for Custodial Parents:

  • In the weeks and days preceding the visit, be excited for your child. They themselves will be both excited and anxious about the upcoming visit but will most likely be worried that expressing those feelings will hurt you. If you outwardly express some excitement for them, they will be a lot more comfortable talking to you about their feelings. You will then also get the opportunity to help quell some of their anxiety.
  • Reassure your child that while they are away, you will miss them very much but that you will be fine. Tell them about your plans for while they are gone so that they won’t worry about you or feel like they are secretively being excluded from something.
  • Help your child pack. Don’t take the attitude that this is their visit and not something that concerns you. If you would help your child pack for a weekend at your parents or a family trip with you, you should be helping them pack for this. By not, you are reinforcing the sentiment that you really want nothing to do with this aspect of their life.
  • Keep any arguments that have arisen about transportation, dates, vacations, or anything else strictly under wraps. Chances are, your child already feels like a burden for needing to be transported and like a piece of property being handed off. They don’t need added guilt about being the root of any conflicts.
  • If you can, work out a schedule for communicating while your child is away. Again, the message shouldn’t be that while they are with their other parent, they are completely cut off from you. Because that translates to your child as: I don’t want anything to do with you while you are with them.
  • When they return, welcome them home with excitement. They will be excited to be back, whether they express it or not. And they will undoubtedly be somewhat concerned about how their time away has impacted their position in the family. They may feel awkward for a bit and that stems from them feeling suddenly like an outsider, so don’t take it personally or react to it. Smile, hug, ask questions and know that it will pass soon enough.
  • No eye rolling at laundry, lost items, or anything else which will make them feel guilty about their visit. Talk to them about it, sure, but leave any passive aggressive gestures at the door.
  • Be prepared to hear ALL about your ex, their family, new significant other, their house, car, neighbors and anything else you would rather not know. Listen with a smile on your face, because that gesture is a display of your child’s love for you, not your ex. You’ve missed a great deal that is very important to your child, and this is their way of filling you in on everything they’ve been doing and all they felt that impacted them. They are sharing with you, and that’s done out of love, not a desire to make you jealous, bored or upset.
  • Also be prepared to hear lots of comparisons especially in the days after your child returns. This is natural. It’s your child seeing and pointing out the delineation between their two households.
  • Feel free to tell your child that they grew while they were gone, but resist from telling them that they’ve changed as a result of their visit. Don’t say, “You sound just like your dad/mom.” They are most likely already afraid of that and your saying it will only confirm some of their worst fears: that since you don’t love their other parent, their similarities will make it difficult for you to love them as well.
  • Lastly, enjoy all that time you get away from your child!  Parenting is hard and any break from it needs to be cherished.  You don’t need to keep a constant vigil by their bedside or the phone to show how much you love them.  Relax and revel in the time you have to either focus on other children or even….yourself!

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How to Prepare For, Survive and Enjoy Extended Non Custodial Visits — The Grown Up Child
May 3, 2010 at 2:07 am

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