Raising children comes with challenges at the best of times. When you factor in visiting schedules among divorced parents, those difficulties compound.
Co-parents often face serious questions: What will become of their child’s wellbeing when the adults are not together? How do conflicting parenting styles impact a healthy upbringing? Does distance diminish quality childcare?
In this article, we dive into some common parental challenges surrounding visits in separated households.
Explaining Visitation Arrangements to Children
As parents navigate the complexities of child visitation arrangements, it can be difficult to explain the situation to children. If those children are very young or have special needs, explaining can be that much harder.
Your goal should be to help the kids understand the situation, first and foremost. Then, they must know what to expect and when they'll spend time with each parent.
Finding the right words and tone can be tough in this situation. Depending on their age, children need different levels of detail about visitation. You must also remain honest with them while also being reassuring.
Parents can help their children by framing the situation positively. You can emphasize the love each parent has for them. Also, create routines and traditions that make transitions easier.
Though it may take some work, the right approach can help the entire family navigate this difficult time more smoothly.
Navigating the Logistical Challenges of Coordinating Visits
For divorced or separated parents, coordinating visitation schedules can be an overwhelming task. Creating a visitation schedule involves numerous logistical challenges, from juggling work to coordinating transportation arrangements. Even finding the best storage for your child’s belongings can prove difficult.
Always keep open communication with your co-parent and plan ahead. As part of your parenting agreement, you should have a visitation schedule that best fits everyone’s needs. It should include minor details like times, pickup and drop-off locations, travel expenses, and so on. If your court-ordered plan lacks these logistics, meet with a lawyer and discuss creating a new plan.
Remain flexible and adaptable when necessary. If you require a permanent change to your visitation schedule, create a new plan and submit it to the court.
Most importantly, prioritize your child’s wellbeing and make sure they feel safe and secure during their visits. Pay attention to their needs as they grow and change over time, and be ready to adjust accordingly.
Helping Children Adjust
Helping children adjust to the reality of shared parenting can be a difficult task. They may struggle with the transition of moving between two homes. Such changes are particularly hard for small children or kids with special needs.
When transitioning to a new lifestyle, children may experience uncertainty, confusion, and resentment. As the adult, you must remain patient and understanding. Show empathy toward your kids as they try to make sense of their new family dynamic.
It is equally important to maintain clear communication and cooperation with the other parent. Your goal is to provide your children a sense of stability and consistency.
Understanding the Emotional Toll
For both parents and children, visitation can be a source of stress and anxiety, particularly if the relationship between the parents is strained.
Parents must navigate the practical aspects of visitation schedules and transportation, all while considering their child's emotional wellbeing. They must also grapple with their own emotions, including feelings of guilt, sadness, or anger.
Children may struggle with separation anxiety, or they sometimes feel torn by their loyalty to both parents.
Parents must remain aware of these emotional challenges and approach visitation arrangements with sensitivity and empathy, prioritizing the child’s needs.
Supporting Each Other During Visitation Exchanges
It can be difficult for parents to remain civil during these exchanges, especially when there is unresolved tension or conflict between them.
As we keep repeating, parents must remember that the child’s needs come first. Establishing a positive co-parenting relationship is crucial for their emotional health.
Maintaining harmony may involve setting clear guidelines and expectations, such as exchanging the children at a neutral location or refraining from discussing personal issues. Both parents can also work to create a consistent routine for the children. Doing so provides stability and reassurance during an otherwise tumultuous time.
Managing Expectations Around Holidays and Special Occasions
Both parents understandably want to spend time with their child during meaningful days, but realistically, they may need to sacrifice or lower their expectations.
To help manage special occasions, you can establish a schedule for alternating holidays between both parents. For instance, one parent gets them for Christmas, and the other gets them for Thanksgiving. Next year, you swap.
Some families find it helpful to adopt flexibility and open communication. Co-parents who get along can change plans on the fly, better meeting everyone’s needs.
Every family is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Work toward finding a solution that prioritizes the children and allows them to enjoy these moments with both parents.
Dealing with Feelings of Guilt or Anxiety
It's common for mothers and fathers to feel a sense of guilt or anxiety around visitation. This is especially true when the separation is new. One can feel bad about not being around enough, and the other could struggle with worries that they are being selfish.
Parents must remember that the child’s welfare is most important. Visitation is an opportunity for children to spend time with both parents and other family members. It may not always be a perfect system, but families can still thrive within this structure.
When feelings of guilt or anxiety persist, seek professional support. Attending counseling sessions or group meetings is a helpful tool for managing negative emotions.
Communication between parents is essential to ensure that visitation arrangements remain respectful, considerate, and mutually beneficial.
It’s important to acknowledge and address your negative feelings. Doing so helps you adjust, ultimately creating a healthier environment for your children.
Our firm is here to help you create a fair, reasonable parenting plan. We can advocate for a custody or visitation plan for your family. To meet with our team, schedule time with us by calling (916) 299-3936 or contacting us online.