[T]he time has come for the “weekend visit.” Ever since the divorce, your child has visited the non-custodial parent, mostly without incident.
However, this time is different. The child balks, drags his feet, and complains. While that might not be unusual, this time, his reaction is more determined. It’s not just the usual not wanting to leave his environment, he just doesn’t want to go, and as time draws closer, his actions become more disturbing.
Transitions are Hard for All Kids in Most Any Situation
He is emphatic. He wants to stay in his weekday world. What do you do?
In most cases, a talk with the child will cover it. He may not want to go, but the decision has been made. He may not like it but others, including his parents, have acted in his best interest.
Assuming there’s no abuse or neglect in the relationship. It’s strictly a matter of the child not wanting to go. Explain that adults have looked at all options and possibilities, what’s best for the parents, and what’s best for the child and the parents have worked and talked with other interested adults (the language can vary greatly depending on the child’s age and other factors) and this schedule is what will work best for everyone. Tell him the most important factor is that the child maintain a good relationship with both parents. Try to get him to understand that even though the parents aren’t living together anymore, they are still a family, and that both parents need to spend time with him.
Are You the Problem During Custody Visitation Exchanges?
Then… Take a time out and analysis yourself. Have you been bad mouthing the Ex? Are you exhibiting body language that communicates to Johnny that you don’t want him to visit the other parent for the weekend? Many times custodial parents are the number one problem with exchanges. A personal audit of your words leading up to the exchange can be very revealing.
“Johnny, honey, I am so sad and sorry you have to visit your father. I wish you could spend the weekend with me, I would take you to the park and we would tons of fun together.” Who is really at fault here? Don’t do this.
Don’t Feed Child Visitation Problems
Perhaps, the resistance is just a stage or the result of having a bad day and not your own sabotage. If you are lucky, his attitude will dissipate within a week or two. If the situation continues, see if you can find a cause for the conflict. Does the child not enjoy the weekend activities? Is there something uncomfortable about the environment? Maybe the non-custodial parent is a bad cook.
Encourage Positive Relationships with Both Parents
It could be any one of a number of factors, or a combination. Or it could be you. While such visitations can turn into a family struggle, most times the conflicts can be resolved, if both parents work together. A good custodial parent encourage good relationships with both parents. Audit your own attitude and take the high road for Johnny.
How are your custody exchanges? What do you do to make them go smoother?
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