I had a great conversation the other day with Jacky Lewis of Mediation Matters.
We were talking about those moments or times when children sit and wait for the non-resident parent to turn up, pick them up but fails to do so and how to handle such moments.
Joint custody is the norm in the UK but sometimes it doesn’t work for various reasons.
Unfortunately, when your ex decides not to turn up for a visit, there’s little you can do but you can help your little one(s) cope and deal with such great disappointment and the ensuing sentiments of rejection and anger.
If you are in this situation, if your ex-partner keeps letting your children down, then here are a couple of things you could do to ease the pain that this causes your little one(s).
You most likely will not be able to totally alleviate the painful emotions but just being able to contain them and acknowledge them, makes it much easier for the children to deal with them and move forward.
- When the visit has been agreed and arranged between the two of you, don’t tell the children. That way if he turns up then it will be a good surprise for them. If she doesn’t then they are none the wiser and life goes on. No pain and anxiety inflicted.
- If your ex has already told the children that he/she will be there and chances are that he/she will not turn up again then have a back up plan. Explain to your children what you will be doing and from what time. This helps in preparing them for any disappointment they might face. They most likely will be anxious to see their parent and disappointed if she doesn’t turn up but just the fact that they will be prepared will help. If they say, “Daddy said he is coming on Friday,” try this:
“That would be great wouldn’t it? Did he say what time? Ok let’s see in the meantime maybe we can look at what else we can do on Friday just in case that plan doesn’t work out, our plan B. What would you like to do? It’s supposed to be raining all day so something indoors?”
Trick is to keep it as normal and as light as possible even if in your heart, soul and every ounce of you is cursing you-know-who because you know it will be just another damn no show!
- If it happens frequently then perhaps you could agree on a neutral place to meet e.g. a park, cafe etc. Have a 15 minute waiting period in case of traffic etc. After that time is over and there has been a no show, then the visit is over until next time. Then you can get on with your plan B as in point 2. No need to be confrontational, just let your ex know in advance that “We will be at the park until 2:20 but I will have to leave after that as I have made other plans and I cannot be late. I will take “Tommy and Johnny” with me, just in case you cannot make it. No problem.”
It’s tough on you as you are left to pick up the pieces but it’s tougher on the children. Child custody arrangements, parenting plans, contact and visitation plans and schedules all come together to form good clear co-parenting arrangement. They are all there to create consistency in your children’s lives as well as yours and your ex’s. If they are properly done and respected they provide security for the children as they know where they are and where they will be at given times of the week, day etc.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your children, do call me for an informal chat on +44(0)7850 85 60 66.