I was recently an integral part of a couple of parenting time transfers and I was surprised at how ill-prepared both parents were, so, I decided to post this article with just the basics. In this particular situation, the transfer of guardianship, of course, took place at… You guessed it, Mc Donald’s, where every McDad goes to pick up their children for parenting time.
The actual transfer was uneventful itself, however, the parent who had primary custody did not provide any clothing, bathroom necessities, nothing. I explained to the non-custodial parent that they should probably get a backpack for the child and return the child with necessities such as, socks, underwear, toothbrush, maybe a toy and more so that both parties could get an idea as to what the routine should become. Quite honestly, I was surprised that a parent would send their child off anywhere, where they know they will be spending the night, and they did not pack necessities. So, here is a little info with a video as to what happens when parents are not prepared for their transfer.
Switching between Mom’s house and Dad’s house can be difficult and stressful for children, but the manner that parents approach these transition times can have a big impact on how children react. It is important for parents to realize that children have worries, concerns, hopes, and fears about the divorce or separation, and the transfer of guardianship(Visitation) can often bring a lot of those concerns to the surface, especially if there is a conflict between parents.
Research very clearly shows that the amount of conflict that children are exposed to before, during and after the divorce determines how well children will adjust to the divorce. If the conflict continues or gets worse during parenting time, or any other time, children are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems. Children that see parents being civil and respectful of each other are more likely to feel loved, secure and safe and are less likely to have ongoing emotional or behavioral problems.
There are some strategies that parents can use to make the transfer and parenting time easier for our children. Remember that the more strategies you use, the more beneficial it will be to your children.
1. Speak positively about the other parent and the time that child(ren) will spend with the other parent. For example ” I know that you are going to have a great time this weekend with your Mum/Dad because she/he has special plans”, this is of course much more positive than “I know you don’t want to go, but the court papers say you have too”. In the first sample, the child(ren) is clearly hearing that you know Mum/Dad is a fun person to be with, and has spent some time planning a great weekend.
2. Have the child(ren) ready to go on time, and be on time to pick-up the child(ren). If you need the child(ren) to have a particular item, make sure you tell the other parent so they can be ready, rather than scrambling around at the last minute.
3. Avoid discussing any sensitive topics during the pick-up or drop-off of the kids. Make it short and positive, and don’t be tempted to discuss problems or concerns at this time. Remember that this is a tough time for the children, and parent conflict or emotional tension will just make it worse.
4. Keep basic supplies at both houses. Avoid having to pack a suitcase for the child(ren), rather have socks, underwear, pj’s, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, brushes and other personal items at both houses and/or have a backpack for special items which will transfer back and forth from Dad/Mum. This helps children understand that they have two homes, not just one home and a place to visit.
5. Avoid using the term “visitation” or “access” with your children. This is a court term, not a child-friendly phrase. Try saying “This is your weekend to spend time with Mum/Dad” rather than “This is Mum’s/Dad’s visitation time”.
6. Let the children know that they can call you to say goodnight or just to talk. Avoid calling over to the other parent’s house as this can be seen as a sign of distrust. Rather allow the kids to call you, or perhaps arrange a time that you can phone over to say goodnight if the children are too young to use the phone.
Children love to spend time with both parents, and making parenting time easier on the kids is one way that parents can begin to work together in their role as co-parents to the children.