After a divorce or legal separation, you and your ex will follow a court-ordered parenting plan. This document establishes the type of child custody that both parents will have and it specifies when the child will be with each parent. Visitation is difficult to adjust to for both parents and children, but as time passes, the arrangement will start to feel more normal. Remember that it is possible to petition for a modification of the visitation schedule as your child grows and situations change. Talk to a family law attorney near Owings Mills for guidance.
Maintaining a Routine
Try to imagine how difficult it must be for a child to live in two separate households with two separate routines and sets of rules. Consistency across both households will help your child feel more secure and may even curb problematic behaviors as he or she grows older. Ideally, you and your ex can maintain similar daily routines and household rules, such as finishing homework before playtime and having dinner by a certain time.
Feeling at Home
If you’re the parent who moved out of the family home, you have the added challenge of helping your child feel at home in the new residence. Your child should have a bedroom of his or her own. Your child should arrange and decorate the bedroom to take ownership of the space. Extravagance is not necessary, but comfort is. Resist the temptation to purchase lots of new toys for your child for the purpose of distracting him or her from the new arrangement. Instead, focus on spending quality time together enjoying activities that you would normally do with your child.
Overnight visitation can be stressful for young children, particularly during school breaks when a child might live away from the primary residence for a week or longer. Do not take it as an insult if your child expresses homesickness or misses the other parent. Encourage your child to share these feelings openly and offer judgment-free reassurances.
Children should always feel free to contact either of their parents regardless of which parent they are currently with. Phone calls, text messaging, and video calls strengthen the child’s relationship with each parent. Whenever it’s practical to do so, give your child privacy as he or she chats with the other parent.