The Divorced Parents Meet-Up
Everyone knows the cliché scene from an action movie where the girlfriend of the hero is being held hostage by the enemy and they arrange a meeting to trade the girl for information, money or some other important material. You know that look of terror in the girlfriend’s face? That’s the look you will see on the face of children of divorce when they’re being traded from one parent to another. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s up to us, as adults, to make these transitions smooth for everyone.
Keep conversation to a minimum. It’s not unusual for divorced couples to argue when they’re together. After all, there’s a reason you’re not still married. It’s important to try not to argue in front of the children, and one way to do that is just not to talk about much. The parent who is bringing the kids back can pass on important information, such as what the kids ate, or if one was sick. You don’t need to document your weekend, and this is especially not the time to bring up big decisions such as making changes in the custody schedule or talking about the children’s behavior and deciding on punishments. Those discussions are better left for another time when the kids aren’t around, or better yet, over the phone.
Meet at a neutral place. For many families of divorce it is easier to arrange a meeting place, such as a fast-food restaurant or bookstore that is between the two households. This way each of you share the driving, and you don’t have to deal with any emotions that might arise if your ex-spouse is in your old house.
Turn the drive time into quality time. If you live more than a few miles from your ex-spouse, getting the kids to the other parent’s home means time in the car. This is a great time to catch up on what’s going on in your child’s life, especially for teens. Kids are much more likely to open up and talk when they’re staring out the windshield and not looking right into your face.
Include stepparents in the transitions. Once you’ve remarried, making a blended family gel is a challenge. Let your new spouse come with you on the drop-offs, or even let him or her take over some of the driving time. It will not only be a good example to the kids of how two people in a marriage share responsibilities, but can even create some good time for the kids to get to know this new member of their family.
Karen Alley lives in the Triad and is proud to be part of a blended family.