Parenting Time – Making the Most of It
There are a number of unexpected struggles for newly divorced parents. Making the most of parenting time can be difficult. Understand that it doesn’t have to be that way. If you remember a few important tips, you can have a terrific time.
I previously wrote a blog post called, “Make Your Visitation Days Count.” The premise is you need to have a plan, create an environment for engagement and plan special activities. The post describes some simple steps you can take.
Today, let’s focus on a different aspect of your parenting time. Remember, it’s not just your time. It’s also your child, or children’s, time with you. Realize that your divorce probably turned their world upside down as well. They may have questions; anxiety or other feelings they struggle to express. As the the term implies, this is your time to parent.
Manipulating a child during or after a divorce is out of bounds.
In fact, a judge will often recognize it and deal harshly with the parent who’s attempting to do this.
You want your child to feel comfortable and safe when expressing his/her issues. Feelings are natural and you need to reinforce that with your child. Life itself can be confusing. Your goal is to reassure him/her. Answer the specific question your child asks. If more information is needed, more than likely you’ll get another question.
This isn’t your time to talk about how bad the other parent is/was. Your child will have feelings for both parents. While “allegiances” will shift given back and forth, don’t pit yourself against your ex-spouse. As a parent, you want to do the things most helpful for your child. If necessary, you can explain that “Mom and Dad had different opinions,” or “decided it would be better this way.” Always reassure your child that they are still very loved and weren’t responsible for this decision.
Most parents work hard during the week. Evenings and weekends are the times we normally try to relax. As a divorced parent, you may not get this option. You want to minimize the disruptions to your child’s life. Make sure they get to their practices and games on time. You may encourage them to invite a friend to come over for the day. These would be normal activities if the divorce had never happened. You’ll have time to relax on those days you don’t have visitation.
I’ll leave you with this thought. One of the best things to remember is that you’re creating memories for your child and yourself. Make the most of it. Divorced parents have special challenges when it comes to staying involved with children. It’s not always the big vacations or the new clothes you bought them. Many children will remember the simple times when you made them giggle, shared a good talk or even just went for ice cream.
You’re creating memories. Let’s make sure they’re good ones.
If you are looking for ways to make the most of your parenting time, consider reading some books or articles on activities. I’d be happy to help with questions you may have about parenting time.
If you want to petition for a change in your parenting time, we can discuss your options. A post-decree modification may be worth pursuing. Feel free to call my office at (812) 945-3055 to arrange an appointment.