Unfortunately most people going through a divorce and that have children together, are unable to communicate and express themselves to each other in a decent and amicable fashion. This dynamic is especially problematic when there are children involved, for several reasons.
If the children are young, chances are you will have to communicate with the other parent for quite some time. Secondly, although one may not realize or know how disagreements or conversation between parents are being interpreted or even heard by the children, they usually are, and more important those adult conversations or disagreements that are being heard by the children, are having a substantial adverse affect.
Below you will find an article recently printed by The Orange County Register that may be helpful in trying to navigate the often difficult waters of having children with an ex-spouse or partner.
TIME SHARING TIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS, By Mary Connor, founder of FACES (Family Assesment Counseling and Education Services Inc.)
Too many parents fight over the details of child sharing and forget to focus on what is really important, the child’s needs and feelings.
Unfortunatley, it seems to be, “you are getting more time than I” or “you are inconveniencing me” Translated to the child: “I am alot of trouble to my parents.”
Conscientious divorced parents find that they want to make sure their child is comfortable with their time sharing plan, but aren’t sure how to make it easier as as the child is passed back and forth between households.
The following tips are those which parents have found helpful as they share their child:
- Set up a regular schedule and make a calendar at each house, no matter how young the child is, show them when it’s mom’s day and when it’s dad’s day. Then the recieveing parent stays at their home and the parent who has just had the child brings the child to the other parents house.
A few miunutes before the child is about to leave for the other parent’s home, you should cheerfully mention it’s almost time to get ready to go home to see mom.
Mom can do the same thing saying, “dad’s going to be so gald to see you when you get home to his house.”
- For mothers and fathers who have a difficult time with phone conversations, many parents make a habit of keeping a spiral notebook, which gets passed back and forth between the houses.
In this diary-type notebook, they note such things as: “Got a good behavior sticker from his teacher today.” Fell off his bike and skinned his knee.” Didn’t want to take a bath again, so I tried giving him stickers for each time he didn’t whine when it was bath time. That seems to be working.”
The point is communication about your child, and letting the child know you two are talking about her and care about her/him.
By sharing their experiences with the children in this way, parents know what happened during their non-parenting time. Funny things that the child did can also be shared between parents. Other parents set aside 10 minutes a week, when the child isn’t around and go over things the child may need. Others are able to phone each other when issues come up about their child’s schedule at school, or colds or illnesses.
- Other successful tips include keeping a picture of the other parent in the child’s room; allowing a nightly phone “good night” kiss with the other parent; being flexible with the other parent when there is a family event or visit from an out of town relative on their parenting time.
What not to do in timesharing?
Dont pump your child for information about the other parents life or lifestyle. It isn’t your business. If you really want to know something, pick up the phone and clear up your child’s comments with a simple question or two.
Suppose your child comes home and says, “Dad left us alone while he was outside with his girlfriend.” A 4-year old may not realize that dad simply went outside, got something from his girlfriends car and came right back into the house. To the four year old, the time period may have seemed like an hour.
Check things out with the other parent, it will relieve your mind and keep lines of communication open as you build your childs future with happy childhood memories, rather than memories of his parents fights.
The original version of this article can be found at www.ocregister.com
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