Tag Archives: joint custody

There’s No Such Thing as a Part-time Dad (or Mom)

Time sharing may very well mean that you see your children less than you did when you were married. This, however, does not mean that you are now a part-time dad or mom. You are either a parent or you are not. Actually, many divorced parents spend more time with their kids than parents in intact families. But no matter how much time you spend with your children, if you commit to it regularly and responsibly, you are a parent.

Regardless of how much time your agreement or the courts have deemed suitable for you to spend with your children, this time is not and never should be confused with babysitting. There’s no need to constantly take your children on expensive adventures, buy them gifts, or keep them perpetually entertained. Children are happy to simply be with you.

Time away from mom’s house (or dad’s) is and should not be defined as time away from home. Your kids do not “visit” you; they live with you. They have one home with Dad and another with Mom. Even if your new home does not have enough space to provide your child with the same sort of living arrangements he or she has with their other parent; it can be made to feel like their home too. Involve them in making it feel they belong there.

Find things that you and your children enjoy doing together. Your children will know when you too are enjoying yourself; just the way they will know if you are standing on the sidelines of the playground checking your cell phone. Make your time together count.

Studies show that many children cope well after a divorce, especially when there is joint custody. Allow yourself to be the parent you want to be. Think of this as your opportunity to re-connect with your children – this time on your own terms; not the way your ex deemed appropriate.

Adjusting to Shared Custody

Adjusting to shared custody during or after a divorce can be one of the most difficult parts of starting a new life. The periods of separation can be tough and even challenging, particularly when the wounds of divorce are still fresh. Letting go of trying to be a part of the children’s every moment is probably one of the most arduous parts, but for the sake of both the parents and the children; it is beneficial.

Children, who may be used to spending more time with one parent or another can also experience some form of separation anxiety. Try to find positive and creative ways to communicate with your children while they are visiting your former spouse without stepping on the toes of the other parent. It is important to allow him or her to parent; which is why co-parenting and communication is so important.

Rather than waiting for your children to call you whenever they feel like it, which may make kids worry about making the other parent feel betrayed or jealous, you can initiate a call. Arrange to ring at regular times, so you both can look forward to catching up, and your ex can arrange for them to be available when you call.

Do keep the calls brief though. Do not take a lot of their time away from the other parent and certainly keep your conversation positive. Although you may miss them terribly and feel sad; do not tell them as this may make them feel badly for the absent parent; sparking feelings of guilt. Tell them a funny story. Smile, even if it is forced.

Do not use your children as messengers. Keep adult business between you and your ex. Also, do not interrogate them about what your ex-partner does. You will have to learn to trust that he or she loves them as much as you do and therefore is doing his/her best to parent them.

When the children are away for longer periods of time; sending a letter or card can be a great way to stay in touch. Tell them all about your daily activities and plans for when you see them again. Emails work too and may allow them to write back, but don’t be offended if they don’t. Text messages are also a great way to keep in touch with older kids.

Skyping or Facetime is always a great option. You can chat with your children about daily activities or just blow them a kiss over the webcam. This is where that forced smile may come into play, but it will come more naturally with time. Once again, do not monopolize their time.

Children often sound distant or feel shy when they are with the other parent; as they may believe they are betraying the other parent. Don’t be offended. Rather, explain to them when they are with you that it’s okay to love both parents.

Remember, if your kids are immersed in activities with their other parent, that’s a good thing. It means they’re having too much fun to miss you. Let them be carefree and happy; they’ll still have plenty of love for you when they come back.