If you are feeling anxious and dread the weekly or fortnightly changeover with your ex when you children are heading off to spend time with the other parent, spare a thought for what it might be like for your child.
If you are feeling tense and nervous chances are your child is picking up the vibe too and feeling equally stressed out about the meeting. You may even see this stress manifest itself in the days and hours before and after the changeover and at the changeover itself there can be tears, tantrums and reluctance to take part. The stress of this event and how their parents interact can cause some children so much anxiety that for them it is easier to just not spend time with the other parent and they miss out on what is otherwise a pleasant experience.
A few tips for a less painful face to face changeover with the other parent:
Talk positively with your child about spending time with the other parent
Do your best to be on time, to avoid angst and conflict
Be civil with each other, greet each other politely, a little small talk is a basic requirement, your child notices “every” interaction between you.
Don’t drag out the changeover, a few pleasantries are enough
Don’t be overly gushy about how much you will miss your child, you know you will miss them, they know that, don’t make them feel guilty about this or let this taint their opportunity for a positive experience with the other parent
Don’t use changeover as the opportunity to discuss burning issues particularly those that have the potential to escalate into heated conflict
And chose a child friendly location for changeover – a nice playground, café etc. Go the extra kilometres if it means that your child will feel safe, secure and comfortable for what can be a difficult time as they leave one parent to return to the other. Petrol stations, police stations and the road side lay-by are not child friendly
If you or someone you know needs help to navigate through family mediation or would like more information, please contact Latoya Percival or Anna Oxford via our website www.xpmediators.com