Many moms and dads come to my law offices seeking legal advice on their custody and visitation orders. They usually have the same or similar questions that concern parents in the early stages of structuring a custody and visitation plan. This New Year, try these 3 tested ways to help you develop and understand how to create the best atmosphere for you and your child to enjoy parental visits:
1. Plan meaningful things to do during the visit. This planning does not have to involve expensive trips or fancy activities. Tune into the kinds of things your child likes to do or something that is of interest to them. Let’s say they are interested in the outdoors and nature. A well planned nature walk in a local regional park with a packed lunch could result in a terrific outing together. Another idea to consider is developing a hobby together that you both enjoy. These child-driven activities require a parent to pay close attention to their children’s developing interests.
2. Don’t interrogate your child. One of the worst things a parent can do is try to get information about the other parent from a child. Painful emotional scars can be created by such damaging behavior. At times children may bring up topics they know could potentially be invasive to the other parent’s privacy. Don’t fall into the trap of promoting this type of conversation. The best way to steer away from where the child may be heading the conversation is to be direct but not confrontational. Explain to your child that because you respect the other parent’s privacy, you do not wish to discuss the activities of the other parent. Your child’s respect for you can only grow as a result of your taking this stand.
3. Set a good parenting example for your child. Do the things you agree to do, show up for the appointed activities you have with the child, be adaptable if scheduling has to shift or the other parent is late, and keep a child-centered focus.