Visitation Etiquette – Put the Kids First

When divorce strikes, the pain is often felt the most by the children involved. If you scroll Facebook, or know anyone struggling with a custody battle – chances are you have seen first hand just how ugly things can get. And, for many parents the custody battle becomes more of a win-lose situation between them and their ex, that the pain caused to the children is an afterthought.

it’s only natural that in painful situations, when emotions run high that people are not thinking clearly. Plus, in the aftermath of many divorces the parents are dealing with such great amounts of pain, that they become exhausted and lost in a sea of angst that makes parenting difficult. After all, mom and dad are humans too.

The thing is, that regardless of how parents feel about one another they have to do their best to avoid being caught in the custody trap that causes them to play tug of war, with their children being the ones raked over the mud pile. This is especially true when it comes to visitation.

Many couples come up with visitation rules during court hearings and rulings. Often times, these visitation rules are nothing but a basic outline which require parents to be on time. Rarely do visitation rules require parents to call one another, or to allow the kids to talk to the other parent, or discourage one parent from having romantic sleepovers while they have their children. Truth is, these things are not for the courts decide.

As adults and especially as parents, it wise for the two of you to meet and have an unbiased mutual agreement of what is expected during visitation. For instance, if a child wants to speak to their father while they are at their mother’s house, they should be allowed to do so. However difficult it may be for you to agree with your ex it IS important that you set aside your differences long enough to mediate some rules that will make the transition to visitation amicable and comfortable to your kiddos.

If you feel strongly about your ex having dates over when the children are there, then agree together that this will be avoided. If both of you want your children to always have access to YOU then make sure that your child has a cell-phone so that they can call mom or dad when they are away without forcing you to be in the middle. It shouldn’t be too much to ask that the kids be allowed and encouraged to call their mother or father before bed each night, or when they wake up. In other words, instead of treating visitation as MY time or THEIR time, try to keep things as balanced and routine as possible. Not for you. But for your children.

If you have older children, it is important that BOTH parents set the same expectations and boundaries with the kids when it comes to key issues such as academics, social media, and being left alone. Even though you and your spouse may be divided on many issues, the one thing you have to come together on is the goals and standards you set for your children. Winning them over by pleasing them, or doing for them constantly is NOT going to help your children become better adults.

For far too many people coming to terms with a divorce and moving forward with the new way of life, becomes a power play for the children’s attention and love. The reality is that your kids love BOTH of you, and that what they require most, especially in these uncertain times, is to know that they are loved in return, are safe and that their lives will remain as in tact as possible.

Tell us, how do you and your ex handle visitation and custody situations? Do you have any advice for people going through a divorce?



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