For divorced parents and their children, visitation is an important part of family life. Visitation is vital to helping children maintain a sense of connection and normalcy with both parents during and after a divorce. But a successful visitation depends on both parents being willing to set aside their differences and put the needs of the children first. Parents need to make sure their children feel safe and loved in both homes, with both parents. Here are some visitation do’s and don’ts to help the time go smoothly for both you and your children.
Although you should have a structured visitation schedule, it’s important to remember that schedules change and unexpected events pop up. Be flexible as plans change, and try not to lash out if your visiting time is cut short. Give the other parent advanced notice if your schedule changes, and let him or her know of your vacation schedule in advance. Also remember that your children may have plans, sporting events, or extra-curricular activities that may affect your visitation schedule. Do your best to go with the flow to help your children adjust more easily.
Incorporate visitation into everyday life.
Instead of planning large excursions and activities every time your visit with your children, allow downtime for just “hanging out.” Do normal things like watching TV or eating a homemade dinner together so you and your children have time to talk and spend time together. Instead of making your visits all about fun, incorporate a little bit of light work into your visits, like a small chore chart, so that your children have a balance of fun and responsibility at both homes.
Disrupt your child’s visitation time with their other parent.
Avoid making your children feel guilty for wanting to spend time with their other parent. Allow them to feel at home with both parents by leaving toys or clothes at each house. Don’t make excuses to withhold visitation from your former spouse. This punishes your children, who have done nothing wrong. Allow your children to communicate freely with their parent and feel comfortable talking about the time they have spent with them.
Spoil your children during their visit.
Avoid buying your children’s love with toys or treats. You are still a parent, so don’t feel the need to act like your child’s buddy. Punish them as you normally would, and don’t overdo it with junk food and unnecessary gifts. Allow your visitation time to be a normal part of your child’s life.
A successful visitation depends on your willingness to be positive and understanding for the sake of your children. As with everything in life, these things take time and practice to work out, so don’t feel discouraged! For more information about successful parenting plans, contact us today.