Making Contact Visits Easier
You might be feeling emotionally unstable before your child goes for an access visit. Here are a few tips to steady your thoughts...
- It is in your child’s best interest to have a good relationship with both parents.
- You will have a significant influence on the relationship between your child and their other parent.
- Make it as easy and positive for your child, your ex, and you, as you can. (If you are reasonable, helpful and respectful, hopefully your ex will follow suit.)
- Children take their cue from us in terms of how to react – it is important to show that we approve of and welcome the time they spend with their other parent.
- Children aren’t as obsessed with ‘fairness’ in terms of length of time spent with each parent as we are – for them the ‘difficult’ time is the ‘handover’/transition from one parent to another.
- Concentrate on making the ‘transition’ as amicable, respectful of all parties, and relaxed as possible.
- We need to allow our children to be children and not burden them with adult issues. If we’re not careful, children readily become ‘little adults’ in order to support us emotionally, and they don't get a chance of having a proper childhood.
- Loving someone is about ‘letting them go’!
- The whole point is that our children deserve to have a great holiday/weekend. Facilitate this by letting them know that they go with your blessing.
- Try to keep any conflict or left-over emotions around your ex out of it, otherwise children may feel that it’s ‘disloyal’ to enjoy themselves.
- Have a no criticisms, adult-to-adult, discussion with your ex, in a neutral public place. In public means you’re both more likely to behave!
- Talk through any practical concerns that you have in relation to the care and safety of your children. (This is not the place to exercise general anxieties, which may be inflated by sadness and anger.)
- Keep the idea of ‘what’s in our child’s best interests’ as your guiding principle. As a general rule, when speaking to your ex try and use ‘I’ a lot (for instance I feel…), rather than ‘you’ (you said…) which can lapse into becoming accusatory.
Brilliant Top Tip!
Encourage your child to take pictures as they move from home to home. It might help them to feel a greater sense of continuity in their life, as well as giving both parents a way in, to talking positively about your child’s experiences with the other parent, without feeling that that you are interrogating them. (If you want to try this, you should definitely discuss the idea with the other parent and get their agreement first - and you will both need to curb your instinct to ‘edit’ your child’s pictures - in the knowledge that the other parent will see them. This is not for you - this is for your child!)
Initially it can be unsettling to see pictures of your child with their other parent – particularly if either or both of you have new partners. Your child's picture-taking can help them feel more in control, and it can help you, as parents, to have a better appreciation of the new situation as a family divided between two households.
Read through Top Ten Tips for Child-Free days, to give you some ideas for how to spend your free time!