In divorced families where there are smoothly-operating custody arrangements and an absence of major conflict between the parents, summertime plans can proceed with few snags. At the other extreme, when there is high conflict between parents, or when one parent lives far away, is not involved with the children on a regular basis, or is unsafe for some reason, the issues are different. In these situations, both the children and the custodial parent can feel anxious about summertime visits.
Some suggestions to reduce stress:
- If you feel strongly about your schedule, or what you want your child’s plans to be, take the initiative and come up with suggestions for summer activities.
- Start discussions as far in advance as possible. This gives each parent time to renegotiate and develop alternatives.
- Take your former spouse’s schedule into consideration. This is to both your advantages. His/hers because you are attending to the ex’s needs and wants and yours because plans are less likely to be changed now or in the future.
- Be realistic about budgeting for summer programs and camps -another circumstance that will benefit you. A feasible cost is more likely to be agreed upon and less likely to be an issue that ends up in court.
If yours is the type of former marriage that works in the best interest of your child, then let your child participate in the development of his summer program.
As with virtually every aspect of co-parenting in a divorced family, the key to navigating the summer is the ability to work together to be sensitive to the children’s feelings and needs. This is always a tall order, since for many divorced parents, every decision or new plan becomes a battleground for playing out the unresolved conflicts and rancor between them.
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