The children are going to be spending time with their other parent. How do you feel? You might expect or hope it will feel like a vacation, but it's more likely you'll experience feelings of loss, fear and sadness.
Do you think your children are too self-absorbed to notice how shared parenting visits affect you? Children are keen observers; they worry when their parents are unhappy and feel responsible to make them feel better. How you handle this situation will greatly influence how they deal with it.
Even though it might be very hard for you to send the kids off to spend time with their other parent, find ways to reassure them that you'll be okay while they are away.
Your natural inclination might be to get very clingy with the children before they go and tell them over and over how much you will miss them. Instead, talk to them about what you plan to do with the time they're with the other parent. Maybe you'll catch up on some reading, go to a movie with friends, take a class you've wanted to take, or get some extra work done.
This is one more new routine that you all need to get used to. One of the biggest gifts you can give your children before they spend time with their other parent is to show them you'll be ok. This puts them at ease and gives them the confidence to enjoy their time away without worrying about you.
© 2008, Mary Wollard, J.D., Family Solutions Center, www.cofamilysolutions.com