For many parents sharing parenting after separation, one parent is the ‘primary carer’ and the other ‘non-resident’ or ‘contact’ parent, spends their time with their child at weekends and holidays. It can be challenging for parents in this situation, especially if trust has been broken, to put their feelings about their ex to one side. Remaining focused on the needs of your child is important. In time, a shared parenting relationship can become established where you can both share the positives of being parents.
As part of our ’10 Ways to …’ series of weekly parenting tips, here are our tips for non-resident/contact parents to positively maintain contact to help both parents to focus on keeping their child at the centre of parenting.
1. Once agreed: When you have managed to agree on contact, follow through.
2. Be on time: Timekeeping is crucial. The other parent can and will feel very disrespected if you are late and children can become very anxious and upset.
3. Turn up: This is your time with your child. It may not be exactly what you want but it’s what you have now. Turn up and be with your child. Nothing else should take its place. Rearrange other things – never your child!
4. Maintenance: Try to stick to all court orders and don’t give ammunition to the other parent. Some parents might use maintenance as a bargaining tool.
5. Plan your time: Make contact fun. It doesn’t have to cost much money. Make it child friendly and interact at a very high level with your child. You can rest later.
6. Involve your child: Plan with your child each week. Talk with them and ask them what they would like to do. Follow through.
7. Respect: Always speak well of the other parent even if you don’t feel it. They are your child’s parent and you can impact greatly on their ability to parent and in turn, your child’s well-being.
8. Be back on time: Again, respect the agreement. The resident parent can and will become very distressed even if the child is 5 minutes late.
9. Parent: When with your child be an active parent. Play with them, talk with them and have fun and laugh together.
10. Don’t quiz your child: It’s not your child’s job to keep you informed about the other parent. Talk about school, activities, their likes and dislikes. Talk with them as needed about why you can’t live with them all the time any more. They will seek explanations and want to understand their family form as they grow. No Blame! Children usually love both parents regardless of wrong doings, mind them and enjoy them. Don’t make life hard for them.
If you found this post useful, you might also like to read 10 Ways to Successful Shared Parenting. One Family offers a range of services to parents sharing parenting or parenting alone after separation. You can find out about them here. If you need support, information or advice, contact our lo-call askonefamily helpline on 1890 66 22 12 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s ’10 Ways to …’ is adapted by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, from our Family Communications training programme.
Coming soon: 10 Ways to Understand How Your Child May Feel and 10 Ways to Problem Solving.
One Family offers a range of training opportunities for parents and for professionals on an on-going basis. To find out more, click here or call 01 662 9212.