If you and your co-parent are sharing custody of your child after separation and divorce, you’re likely both good – or at least responsible – parents. That doesn’t make transitions of your child between homes any easier.
These transitions can be difficult emotionally and logistically for everyone at first. However, the times when you drop off your child with your co-parent or they come to pick them up at your house when your parenting time is over can continue to be difficult for you.
It’s crucial to remember that children of all ages look to their parents to determine how they should feel about things. That means that if you’re angry, fearful or stressed about saying goodbye to your child, you are likely to increase their level of emotion. That’s particularly true for younger children.
How do you keep your emotions from taking over?
It’s important to focus on what’s actually happening rather than how you feel about it. For example, you will likely feel some loneliness when your child leaves. Remember, though, that your child will still be with their other parent, so don’t transfer that feeling over to your child
Remember that even if you think your spouse was a lousy husband or wife, they love your child. Their parenting style and rules may be different than yours, but you know your child is safe and well with them. (We’re assuming here that there’s no abuse or neglect.)
Make the transitions as non-eventful as possible
It’s always best when both parents have a “ritual,” even a casual one, around transition days. Maybe you two have a special phrase or gesture like a “high five.” Minimize the amount of stuff your child has to pack by keeping toiletries, games, toys, books and electronics and some clothes in both homes.
If you’re dropping off your child, think of it as not unlike when you drop them off at school or piano lessons. If your co-parent is picking them up, treat it like you would if a friend and their parents were picking them up for a sleepover. Limit your interaction with your co-parent to brief pleasantries and possibly need-to-know information (although you can also text that separately).
If you’re able to keep your divorce amicable and child-focused, this will set you on the road to a good co-parenting relationship that will only benefit your child. Having trusted legal guidance helps.