Feelings of guilt, competition, or remorse sometimes lead a parent to be tempted to spend parenting time in trips to the toy store and special activities. Other times these feelings can result in an absence of discipline in an effort to become the favored parent or to make the time “special.” Naturally, when you see the other parent exhibiting these behaviors, it can cause some frustration.
Shift your focus from the other parent’s behavior to your own, and do your best to be an outstanding parent during this time. This includes keeping a routine for your child for family meals, bedtimes, chores, and homework. Encourage family activities, as well as individual time with each child, when it’s possible.
During the time when a child’s life is changing, providing a consistent and stable routine in your home can ease his or her anxiety and provide comfort. If you are sharing parenting time in different homes, consider how you refer to the other parent’s home. It should not be you are going to dad’s house or mom’s house. That makes the child feel as if neither house is their house. Instead refer to it by the city if you reside in different cities, or by street name (i.e. the Central Avenue house and the Broadway Blvd. house). That makes the child feel like they have two homes versus no home that is theirs.
Chances are you cannot change the behavior of the other parent. However, in the long-run, your child will appreciate the fact that you may not have been the “fun” parent, but you were the parent who provide the type of support and routine that children need during this difficult time.