During a separation or divorce, there can be recriminations and hurt feelings on both sides.
The most important thing is to keep your child’s wellbeing at the centre of everything you do. As well as that, whether or not you are the resident parent, it’s vital to ensure that you maintain a positive relationship with them throughout the separation process and beyond.
This can be easier said than done, depending on how acrimonious the split was but with patience, respect and good communication, it can be achieved.
Here are a few tips that may help:
Once you have managed to agree on contact dates and times, follow through and don’t cancel at the last minute. It may not be exactly what you want but it’s what you have right now. Rearrange other things – never your child.
Be on time
Timekeeping is crucial. The other parent can and will feel very disrespected if you are late and children can become very anxious and upset.
Do what the court demands
Try to stick to all court orders and don’t give the other parent any ammunition with which to disparage or undermine your parenting.
Plan your time
Make the contact time you have with your child as fun as possible. It doesn’t have to cost much money. Make it child-friendly and interact at a very high level with your child. You can rest later.
Include your child in the planning
Plan what you do with your child each week. Talk with them and ask them what they would like to do. Follow through on those plans so they know they can rely on you.
Speak respectfully about your ex
Always speak well of the other parent even if you don’t feel it. They are your child’s parent and you can impact greatly on their ability to parent and in turn, your child’s well-being.
Honour the agreement
If you play fast and loose with collection and drop-off times, you run the risk of alienating the resident parent.
Engage with your child
When with your child be an active parent. Play with them, talk with them and have fun and laugh together.
Don’t quiz your child
It’s not your child’s job to keep you informed about the other parent. Talk about school, activities, their likes and dislikes. Talk with them as needed about why you can’t live with them all the time any more. They will seek explanations and want to understand their family form as they grow. Children usually love both parents, regardless of wrong doings, so don’t make life harder for them.