Be Consistent in Your Parenting Time
APRIL 13, 2018
Imagine that you've made a date to meet a friend and s/he arrives an hour late, or even worse, doesn't show up at all. Now imagine that your friend does this every time you make plans, but gives you lots of reasons why s/he was late or didn't show. How do you feel? Are you angry? Are you hurt? Are you reluctant to trust your friend in the future? Will you continue to make plans with this friend?
Now imagine that your child is the one who is waiting for YOU. Imagine that s/he has been ready to go since first thing in the morning, that s/he has excitedly told everyone who will listen that s/he's going to see you today. Can you imagine how your child feels if you're late or don't show up?
Fortunately, children are generally more forgiving than adults, at least up to a point. Even when parents are continually late for parenting time, or don't show up at all, children want to believe the excuses. They want to think that you would have been there if you possibly could. They might not even question why you didn't call.
Unfortunately, even children have a breaking point, a point beyond which they will not make that leap of faith. And once they've reached that point, you have probably lost your chance to prove yourself to them. They will likely have already decided that you don't care about them and that you are not to be trusted. Not only will this have a negative effect on your child's future relationship with you, it could also have a negative effect on all of your child's other future relationships.
It's so easy to keep things from ever getting to that point. If you're having trouble keeping to the times in your parenting schedule, ask yourself why, and look for ways to change it. Maybe your hours have changed at work, or you hadn't considered the travel time when you made the original arrangements. Ask the other parent to renegotiate a schedule that works better for you. Make it easy for yourself to follow through on your commitments to your children. They will thank you for being someone they can trust.
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