5 Tips for Meaningful Visitation with Your Kids
Sharing parenting responsibilities can be difficult, especially if you are only allowed a limited amount of time with your children. Not all parents share custody of their children equally. In many cases, one parent is awarded primary custody while the other parent is granted scheduled visitation rights.
Visitation schedules aren’t always easy, and, as a parent, you may feel responsible for making each visit more important than the last. These planned visits can vary greatly depending on the court’s orders and the schedules of either parent. If you and your ex live a great distance from one another, or the noncustodial parent travels for work, finding time for visits might be even more challenging. In any case, as a parent, it is your responsibility to make your child a priority during the time you have.
Whether you and your children share short weekly visits or a few long holidays each year, make sure you make the most of the time you have. Try following these tips to improve your visits:
1. Make Your Child the Priority
Focus on what is going on right in front of you instead of dwelling on feelings of frustration or regret. That means letting go of your worries for the time being and focusing on your child. This may not be your ideal situation, but it’s important to make sure your child knows that you value the time you have with them.
2. You Don’t Always Need to Make Big Plans
Remember, you are not your child’s entertainer, you’re their parent. While it may be nice to take them to their favorite amusement park or out for a day at the beach, doing something big for every outing can get exhausting, and your child will come to expect lavish gestures from you. These types of activities also make it harder to talk to your kids and meaningfully connect. Instead of trying to be the fun, likable parent, try doing normal, everyday activities with your child, too. Spend time at home watching a movie, make a homemade meal, or get involved in one of your child’s preferred activities or hobbies.
3. Make Sure Your Child Feels Welcome in Your Home
Even if your child doesn’t live with you, it’s important to make sure he or she feels welcome in your home. If you can, make your child a room, or find a space that they can call their own, otherwise, they will always see your house as your house, rather than home.
4. Let Your Time Together Be Natural
Sometimes your visits might feel strained, especially if you don’t get to see your child often. It can be difficult to get over this awkwardness, but just do what you can to act naturally and encourage your child to be themselves. Ask them about their favorite interests or take them somewhere you know they’d enjoy.
5. Keep in Contact
Although you may not be able to see your child as frequently as you’d like, you can still keep in contact when you’re apart. Schedule weekly phone calls or video chats when you know you will both be free. Even if you’re busy, try to stick to your plans so that your child knows they can rely on you and that these communications are important to you. If calls are hard to stick to, try emailing instead.
Need help modifying a child custody or visitation schedule? Contact McKinley Irvin at our Oregon office to meet with our family lawyers.