Divorce is difficult enough as it is, but child custody is often one of the most challenging aspects. Perhaps there’s nothing harder than welcoming your child back into your home only to hear that they had a bad experience during visitation with the other parent. How should you handle this situation?
Don’t Jump to Conclusions
As a parent, you already know there might be many reasons why your child is having a bad day. Not all of them are tied to the other parent’s behavior. Step back and take some time to think before immediately jumping to conclusions.
Since there are so many things that could have influenced your child’s mood, think about what might have been the trigger in this situation. Some reasons that your child might be upset include:
- They missed you and your home
- They were worried about you
- The other parent doesn’t give as much freedom
- There wasn’t much parental interaction or the child was bored
- The child feels like they need to take a side
- The child is telling you what they think you want to hear
- The activities were not interesting or age appropriate for them
The only way to know for sure if a further reaction is warranted is to get more information. Talk to the other parent and communicate that your child appeared to have a bad experience during their visit and you want to talk about it before jumping to conclusions. Then, talk with your child by asking open-ended questions. Don’t pressure them.
Children cannot always articulate their feelings with the same depth that adults can, so give your child the space, time and tools to communicate how they feel about visiting the other parent. Different routines and methods in the other home are not necessarily bad, they are just different. If any misunderstandings occurred, you can share this in a conversation with the other parent.
If you believe your child is not safe with the other parent, you can ask the police to do a wellness check, but keep in mind that this could spark conflict with the other parent and cause stress for your child.
If your circumstances have changed since your custody order was put in place, it may be time for a modification of custody and visitation. If you are truly concerned about the well-being of your child during visits with the other parent, contact The Law Offices of Allyson Goldscher to discuss what you should do about it.