Around the time of Father’s and Mother’s Day each year, we usually see a spike in queries from parents wanting to know their rights surrounding their children and in particular, spending time with their children on these special days.
We hear from Clients about their “rights” as a Mother or their “rights” as a Father, but quite often, they miss the point that it is not all about them, but it is about the “rights” of their children and what is in the best interests of their children. This is the very foundation of the family law system.
Whilst some parents will not allow the children to spend time with the other parent on a special day such as Father’s Day or Mother’s Day, thinking that they are hurting that parent, they do not see who they are really hurting, that is, the children.
So, when dealing with your former partner, the parent of your child or children, take a step back to consider how you can best communicate and deal with them in a child-focused manner. Obviously, there are some circumstances where it is not appropriate for children to spend time with a particular parent, for instance, where the children are at risk of harm and this is a topic for another blog.
To assist parents in preparing their children for spending time with the other parent on Father’s Day or Mother’s Day (or anytime really), we have come up with some practical tips:
- Have a business-like relationship together for the sake of the children – The co-parenting process is a long road if both parents cannot communicate effectively. Be aware that the children are perceptive to any bitterness between you both. Do not focus on past wrongs or issues between you both, focus on the children and both your interests in furthering their best interests. A Post Separation Parenting Program may assist in providing communication strategies in this respect. In the end, some day you will both likely be attending your child’s wedding or witnessing the birth of your grandchild. Act now in changing your behaviours and do not do anything to jeopardise such precious future moments;
- Take the children shopping for a gift for the other parent – This will display to the children your positive co-parenting relationship and the children will receive much joy in this process, not to mention it will exhibit a caring and cooperative attitude to the other parent;
- Consider the timing of changeover – Rather than changing over on the morning of say Father’s or Mother’s Day, consider changing over the night prior. That way, you do not have to see your former partner on your special day, which may be upsetting in some circumstances and may impact upon your day. In any case, the children would most likely enjoy waking up with their Mother on Mother’s Day or their Father on Father’s Day and making them breakfast in bed!;
- Don’t talk about the other parent negatively around the children – Be aware that your children are listening to everything. A comment to a family member or friend regarding the other parent is often picked up on by children. It is not in the best interests of children to have parents speaking negatively about the other. Instead, try to say something positive to the children about the other parent, but do not be fake. Children are great at picking up on insincere comments. A good positive, non-committal comment may be, “Mummy loves you” or “Daddy loves you”, that way you are removing yourself from the situation and placing the children at the forefront.
Should you have any queries regarding this blog or family law matters generally, please give one of our Gold Coast Family Lawyers a call for a free 15-minute telephone chat.