Summer is almost here and the school year is officially over. For a lot of divorced parents of school-age children, that means one thing: It’s time for the kids to spend some extended time with their other parent.
If that sounds anxiety-producing to you, imagine how it may sound to your child. Even though your child loves their other parent (and you know that their other parent is quite capable), it’s still a very big deal when a primary caregiver and a child are apart from each other for any length of time.
How do you handle this situation? Here are some tips:
- Keep your own fears in check. Kids often take their cues from the adults around them. You may be quietly terrified about having your child so far away from home, but don’t show it.
- Plan for the inevitable. Talk to your child’s other parent about the potential for separation anxiety and try to have a plan in place. What can you both do to minimize the problem?
- Schedule some e-visitation. You can ease your child’s anxiety by making sure that you’re still a visible presence in their life. Set up a nightly Skype or Zoom visit for a bedtime story or a weekly jam session where you and your child can catch up.
- Ask you ex to pack the calendar. Sometimes the best medicine for anxiety is making sure that a child stays occupied. Too much spare time — especially at the beginning of a visit — can leave your child feeling lonely.
Sometimes circumstances change very quickly. If it no longer makes sense for your child to spend the summer with their other parent or you have reasonable concerns about your child’s safety while they’re there for any reason, find out what it takes to modify a custody schedule.