Visitation, Confused Children and Dad's New Girlfriend
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By Linda Jacobs, Featured Columnist - March 02, 2014

Fotolia_36205986_XS.jpgIt is very difficult for a mom to send her children to dad's home for visitation when there is a girlfriend involved. As moms we want to always protect our kids. It is very hard to not want to jump in and “save” them from the confusion of what is going on at Dad’s. I know, been there – done that! It is so hard to stay out of the picture. However, when the kids are at dad’s house and you continue to rescue them, even if it’s just on the phone, kids learn to push their problems over to you and they learn not to deal with things.

Many times it’s hard for the children to have to go to dad’s place when there is a “girlfriend” in the picture. The girlfriend takes the attention away from the kids. This situation is between your children and their dad, not you.

Encourage your kids to take special game or books with them and maybe even a journal. When things get rough, tell them to go and write what is bothering them in their journal. Or take a time out and go to a quiet place at dads and read a book or play a game.

If your children have problem talking with their dad about how they are feeling, help them write out what they want to say. Put these on 3 x 5 cards and have the kids read them every day, two or three times a day and then after a couple of weeks, when they go to dad’s they can tell dad, “Hey dad, I’ve got some things I need to talk about with you. Is there a time we can just sit and talk without the TV or any other noise? This is really important to me.” Many times your child just doesn’t know how to talk to their dad or they are afraid of hurting dad’s feelings.

To help your child when they are at the dad’s home you need to set a limit on the number of times the kids can call you when they are at the dad’s house.  Something else that comes to mind is sometimes the kids are worried about you and may even wonder if you are seeing someone when they are not there. This could cause some unsafe feelings of anxiety in your children.  Your children may wonder if you start dating are they going to have to compete at home for your attention too?

You might plan out your time when the kids are not going to be there and then go over this schedule with them before they leave to go to the other parent’s home.

It could go something like, “Ok, guys while you are gone this weekend mom plans on getting some things done around here. First of all I’m going to clean house and do the laundry so don’t call or text me in the morning because I’m going to be very busy working. Then in the afternoon, I’m going to meet a lady friend from church and we are going to see a movie. Don’t call while I’m at the movies because we wouldn’t want to interrupt all of the other people who will be watching the movie. After the movie she is going to come to our house and help me move the living room furniture around. After that I’m going to take a long hot bath and go to bed early because I am going to be very tired. I will call you before I go to bed. If you want I can read you a bedtime story over the phone.”

You will be teaching your children some excellent life skills. You will be setting healthy boundaries. Plus you will be giving yourself a much needed vacation from children, even if it just for one short afternoon.  

This article by Linda Ranson Jacobs originally appeared on www.hlp4.com.

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