In my previous blog post I provided a few ideas for parents to assist their children to ensure a smooth transition for kids who are initially resistant to change or verbalize concerns about visiting their other parent. Here are some additional ideas / techniques you can use to help increase the likelihood of a successful adjustment:
- 1. Relax and Give Them Some Space
Another mistake often made by custodial parents after picking their kids up following supervised visits, and made by visiting parents during their limited companionship time, is to grill their kids with questions about the visit, the other parent, the other parent’s relationships and household, etc. While many times these questions may be asked with good intentions, too often they are asked as a result of the parent’s own anxieties or doubts and in attempt to gather information that can be used against the other parent.Asking kids a barrage of questions after or during their visit, regardless of your intentions, may result in your child feeling anxious and uneasy about the visit and puts them in a loyalty conflict. Sometimes kids may try to avoid going or complain about having to visit the other parent, which may on the surface appear to be because they do not like or are afraid of the visiting parent, when in reality they may just be feeling stressed out because of the grilling they know they will face after the visit is over or being asked to divulge personal information about a parent during their visit.
If there are truly problems going on during the visits that may be detrimental to your children, then trust that your children and the staff at Common Ground Family Services will keep you informed without the need for you to ask. If that is the case, then staff will communicate with you and help you determine the next course of action. We are committed to your children’s safety and well-being and will make every effort to ensure that their visitation experience at CGFS is a positive one, as we hope you will do as well.
- 2. Communicate First – Avoid Problems Later
When concerns arise regarding your child’s supervised visits it is important to communicate with staff first rather than jumping to conclusions and involving your children in negative discussions about the other parent and / or visits. Children sometimes have misperceptions about or may miscommunicate when recalling events and activities that occur during supervised visitation. It is best to avoid confusion and emotional distress by first talking with staff privately away from the children to share what you have been told and inquire about what actually occurred.
You can rest assured that the visitation specialists at Common Ground Family Services are professional social workers who care about your children’s safety and well-being and diligently supervise and document the interactions that occur during visits between parents and children. If anything occurs during visits that could potentially cause harm to a child, then the social worker will intervene as needed to protect the child and the custodial parent would be notified. If your child has reported something to you that was not reported by staff, then please talk to the social worker to get all the facts first before making assumptions or involving others (such as attorneys or other family members) into the mix, which could make matters worse and result in additional conflicts unnecessarily.
In cases where children are already in counseling due to emotional difficulties, behavioral problems, and / or family conflicts, it is helpful to sign releases allowing for the child’s therapist and CGFS to communicate directly in order to ensure continuity of care for your child and to further assist your child during this transition.
By following the above steps you can hopefully avoid the pitfalls that have ensnared many parents and families and can help your children to have a safe, positive, enjoyable visitation experience at Common Ground Family Services. We hope to partner with you and your children towards reaching your family’s shared goals in finding “common ground” and healing broken relationships through our professional visitation, mediation, and counseling services.
Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. We’d love to hear from you!
Some of the most frequent questions I am asked by parents, when their children are coming to Common Ground Family Services for supervised visits, tend to focus around children’s adjustment during transitions and throughout the visitation process. While it is expected that children will often have some difficulties adjusting to a new environment and unusual situation, the difficulties are often times overblown by well intending parents and caring professionals. In most cases, children are very adaptable and are quickly able to normalize the new circumstances in which they find themselves. Continue reading