LONG COUNSELING AND EVALUATION NEWSLETTER
June 30, 2017
Is it about the Parents “my time” or the Children’s Time when thinking about Child Custody?
Written By Rochelle Long, MA, LMHC
Too many parents get so wrapped up in “my time” with their children, rather than think about their “children’s time.” Many parents count the days, minutes, seconds to ensure they are receiving their ‘fair’ share of parenting time with their children, rather than focusing on what is ‘best’ for their children. In fact this applies to parents who share children equally and to parents that have more or less time. STOP! Children are not counting the days, hours, minutes, or seconds they are sharing with either parent; they are enjoying quality time with both of their parents. Children love both parents, and regardless of how much they see each parent, children want to feel free to have friends, play sports, be involved with school, church, etc., just be a kid. Children ‘should’ not need to worry whether Parent A is not receiving what parent A feels is their fair share of ‘time.’ In fact children have developmental milestones where friends, extra curricular activities, sports, and other stuff become their priority, and want their parents support and love during these times. Children do not want their parents fighting over ‘time’, or who the better parent is, children want to be kids and explore their options; just as if this were a nuclear family.
Johnny is 10 years old and in fourth grade. His parents have been divorced for three years, and fighting in court for the past two years about custody. Johnny loves both his parents, and looks forward to seeing both. His parents have equal shared parenting, however, his mother refuses to allow Johnny to attend his baseball games during ‘her’ residential time because the father is the assistant coach on the team and feels that three practices a week, and one game per week is too much. The mother didn’t outwardly say this to Johnny, she said “Johnny, don’t you want to go swimming with your cousins and play ‘kid stuff’ rather than play in your baseball game?” Johnny is thinking silently that he loves baseball and doesn’t want to miss his game, however, he wants to please his mom, so he tells her, “go swimming.” The mother feels validated that Johnny doesn’t want to play his baseball game or attend practices, and the mother informs the father that during ‘her time’ she will decide what is best for Johnny. The father feels the mother is purposefully keeping Johnny away from sports and other activities that are directly or indirectly related to the father.
Kayleigh (12) and John (7) live with their mother during the week, and their father every other weekend. Both Kayleigh and John play sports, and most recently Kayleigh was selected to play select soccer, which involves many hours of practices, games away, and tournaments. The mother takes both kids to their practices during the week, however, the father has made it clear that this is ‘his time’ and he will not ‘promise’ to take either of them to their sports. In fact he blames the mother for ‘infringing’ on his time and trying to get the kids to ‘dislike him.’ He refuses to partake in the children’s sports, and this has caused both kids, especially Kayleigh a lot of frustration and sadness because she has to sit during the games she does make it to because the coach expects the players to be at practices and games. Kayleigh has lost some friends due to this because they do not understand why she is not at the games, and they feel she is letting the team down. Kayleigh feels she has to chose soccer or spending time with her father. Legally, her father has ‘time’, however, emotionally Kayleigh is resenting her father for this. John is still young, and plays on a recreational team. He prefers to make both parents happy, and focuses more on ‘parents time.’
Tiffany just turned 13. Her parents have been divorced for 10 years, and she lives majority of the time with her father because her mother lives in a different state due to remarriage. Tiffany sees her mother during holidays, breaks, and summers. Tiffany is a social butterfly and has many friends, and wants to spend time with her friends in the summer close to where she lives majority of the time. Tiffany’s mother supports that, however, enforces Tiffany to spend the allotted six weeks in the summer where the mother resides. Although this has worked well in the past, Tiffany is beginning to resent going to her mother’s during the summer, and begins to bargain with her mother about summer break. The mother automatically thinks the father is involved, and starts a modification of the parenting plan and contempt hearing based on what she perceives the fact that the father is withholding their child (Tiffany). However, it has been Tiffany defying to see the mother, and Tiffany trying to talk to her mother about this. The father has been supportive of the relationship between Tiffany and her mother, and has even been a ‘mediator’ a few times.
These are examples of ‘parenting time’ vs. ‘children’s time.’ Recent research indicates most parents will be flexible in their parenting arrangements so their children can partake in activities and events. In fact, most parents are able to put their personal feelings aside, and think about their child’s needs and wants. With technology, parents and children are able to stay in touch via text, FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media (depending on age). Older children and teenagers report feeling ‘connected and supported’ by their parents when they are able to attend functions, play sports, and attend friend outings. These older children also report more enjoyment spending family time with each parent because neither parent is claiming ‘my time.’ Younger children usually prefer spending time with their parents, and family members more often; and still want to participate in activities with their parents support.
This is great news for the flexible parents that co-parent and do what they can for their children. What about the group of parents (approximately 20%) that are considered high conflict, and are counting the days, hours, minutes, and seconds? These parents are not flexible, and do not seem to take into account their child’s schedule. Research has shown children from high conflict families suffer the most! Parents, set your feelings aside, and think about your children and their wants and needs. If you are stuck, reach out to a Parenting Coach for assistance. Children grow up so fast, enjoy each moment and allow them to flourish!
SUPERVISED VISITS: WE OFFER SUPERVISED VISITS FOR PARENTS THAT HAVE BEEN ORDERED BY THE COURTS. WE PROVIDE A CARING ATMOSPHERE WHERE CHILDREN ARE ABLE TO SPEND TIME WITH THEIR PARENT(S). WE TREAT ALL FAMILIES WITH RESPECT AND WANT THEM TO FEEL COMFORTABLE DURING THEIR SUPERVISED RESIDENTIAL TIME. PLESSE CONTACT ALBERT SANCHEZ FOR MORE INFORMATION – ALBERT@LONGCOUNSELING.COM WE DO OFFER SEVEN DAYS A WEEK SERVICE!
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NEW GROUP STARTING – HURRY UP AND SECURE YOUR SPOT:
‘The targeted parent – Learn Thick Skin, and have contact with your children’
This group is ten weeks long and focuses on working with the targeted parent that is either being reunified with their parent or getting ready to be reunified. This group focuses on ways to handle the stress involved during this process, the loss and grief, normalize the feelings (you are not crazy), and make sense out of this madness. There is a 10 person limit to the group – contact Albert at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested! The cost is $50.00 per group session. Check to see if your insurance will pay!!
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Send us your stories and questions. We are hear to help children and families have healthy relationships and help them learn through these difficult times. Children need both parents, and most parents do not mean to harm their children. Let’s keep our children safe from this emotional abuse.
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