Here is the fourth and final installment of The Best Free Advice on Child Custody Ever, and I’ve saved the best for last. I give this advice not so much as a child custody lawyer, but as a parent. And here’s the secret:
Your children will want to spend time with you when they have something to look forward to. I call this technique “creating anticipation.”
Let’s say that you have parenting time with the children every other weekend. Plan something cool for your weekend, like camping, or fishing, or a trip to the beach, or a museum.
Spend the first weekend together with your child or children researching the choices. Involve them in planning the activity. If you have a scheduled telephone call with them, talk to them about the activity and give them an active role in planning.
A great resource for finding activities is San Diego Family Magazine, or similar local publications, where there are lists of free and low-cost options for family outings.
The goal is not to usurp the other parent’s time. Just plant the seed about the activity, and get them thinking about it and anticipating it.
Then make sure you follow through. Trust must be forged through years of following through on promises, but it can be dashed in a day by a broken promise. If you say you’ll do it, make it a priority.
I’m not suggesting that you be “Disneyland dad.” Parenting is often a difficult chore, requiring boundaries and discipline. Sometimes the answer has to be “no.” But establishing positive associations with your parental world will help you build solid relationships with your children. And as family minister Josh McDowell once pointed out, “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.”
Creating anticipation works well with block vacations. Say you plan a week-long camping trip. You can schedule time during your child visits where you determine the location. Then, ask the children to think about what gear they will need. Spend time looking at brochures, websites, books and other media. Get them involved in the trip.
It is so important for the children to have both parents in their lives. Take the time to build that relationship, and you’ll find that when it’s time to talk with the therapist or Family Court Services mediator, a tear will form in their eye as they think “wow, he’s such a great dad,” or “she such a great mom.”
Wishing you the greatest success in building relationships with your children after divorce or separation I remain …
Very truly yours,
Disclaimer: Thomas D. Ferreira is an attorney licensed only in the State of California. The information set forth in this blog or on our websites are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship, nor are they intended as legal advice on your specific matter. This information is not intended to apply to cases or jurisdictions outside the State of California, and those viewing this information outside of California, or having business before jurisdictions outside of California, should consult a local professional or lawyer. The information in this blog is not a substitute for the advice of competent counsel, and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as a guarantee, warranty or prediction regarding the results of your legal matter.