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Family Law: California Divorce and Family Law
Time sharing tips for single parents
It takes effort for divorced parents to avoid fighting and snooping.
Too many parents fight over the details of child sharing and forget to focus on what is really important, the child's needs and feelings.
Unfortunately, it seems to be, "You are getting more time than I am" or "You are inconveniencing me." Translated to the child: "I am a lot of trouble to my parents."
Conscientious divorced parents find that they want to make sure their child is comfortable with their time sharing plan, but aren't sure how to make it easier as the child is passed back and forth between households.
The following tips are those which parents have found helpful as they share their child:
?Set up a regular schedule and make a calendar at each house, no matter how young the child is, to show when it's mom's day and when it's dad's day. Then the receiving parent stays at their home and the parent who has just had the child brings the child to the other parent's home.
A few minutes before the child is about to leave for the other parent's home, you can cheerfully mention it's almost time to get ready to go home to see mom.
Mom can do the same, saying, "Dad's going to be so glad to see you when you get home to his house."
?For mothers and fathers who have a difficult time with phone conversations, many parents make a habit of keeping a spiral notebook, which gets passed back and forth between houses.
In this diary-type notebook, they note such things as: "Got a good behavior sticker from his teacher today." "Fell off his bike and skinned his knee." "Didn't want to take a bath again, so I tried giving him stickers for each time he didn't whine when it was bath time. That seems to be working."
The point is communication about your child, and letting the child know you two are talking about her and care about her.
By sharing their experiences with their children in this way, parents know what happened during their non parenting time. Funny things the child did can also be shared between parents. Other parents set aside 10 minutes a week, when the child isn't around and go over things the child may need. Others are able to phone each other when issues come up about their child's schedule at school, or colds or illness.
?Other successful tips include keeping a picture of the other parent in the child's room; allowing a nightly phone "Good Night" kiss with the other parent; being flexible with the other parent when there is a family event or visit from an out of town relative on their parenting time.
What not to do in timesharing?
Don't pump your child for information about the other parent's life or lifestyle. It isn't your business. If you really want to know something, pick up the phone and clear up your child's comments with a simple question or two.
Suppose your child comes home and says, "Dad left us alone while he was outside with his girlfriend." A 4-year-old may not realize that dad simply went outside, got something from his girlfriend's car, and came right back into the house. To the 4-year-old, the time period may have seemed like an hour.
Check things out with the other parent, it will relieve your mind and keep lines of communication open as you build your child's future with happy childhood memories, rather than memories of his parents' fights.
From the Orange County Register.
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