Summer Possession Survival

Summer Possession

Build Your Relationship with Your Child During Summer Possession

Summer Possession . . . 

Summer possession can be the best time of the year for the whole family.  All it takes is a little thought ahead of time.  Check out this survival guide to help divorced and separated parents ease their children’s adjustment to the summer visitation schedule.  Child custody attorney Bob Leonard has some ideas to help you survive.

Designate Summer Possession Time

If you have a standard possession schedule in Texas, the non-primary parent designates their preferred time for their 30 day visit – 42 days if they live more than 100 miles away.  They can choose 30 consecutive days or two periods of at least 7 days each.  Not three, not four, but two.  They have to give the primary parent proper notice by April 1st.

If no dates are chosen by the non-primary parent, the default is July 1st through July 31st by default.  If they live more than 100 miles apart the dates are June 15th through July 31st.

There are additional provisions allowing the primary parent to designate a weekend – two non-consecutive weekends if the parents live more than 100 miles apart and the non-primary parent plans to exercise the full 42 days – during the summer visit when they want to see the child.

If you do not have a standard possession schedule, then refer to your divorce decree or most recent order affecting your children.  Often parents who have the standard order choose to work together to allow their children to attend camps, summer lessons, family reunions, etc.

Prepare for Summer Possession

Primary Parent Summer Possession Tips

Your children may complain about having to go to the other parent’s home for an extended period.  You are the adult and it is up to you to present a good attitude about the summer possession visit.

It is perfectly natural for children to resist the idea of spending some time away from what is familiar.  At your house they know your rules, your routine, and your environment. Let them know you are pleased they are getting an opportunity to experience a new place.

Even if you are not convinced that encouraging your kids to have a good relationship with the other parent is a positive thing, try to be as upbeat as possible.  Not fake, just matter of fact and confident in the other parent’s ability to provide a safe and nurturing place.  Remember, you and your partner divorced one another or split from one another, not from your children.  Some ways you can be a great co-parent are:

Discussing the Summer plans with your ex. Even if you don’t have a very good relationship with your ex, try to have a productive conversation the sake of the children.  See if the two of you can get on the same page, or close to it, for rules, expectations and discipline.  Remember, you don’t have to agree on everything.  It’s ok during summer possession if they allow a little later bedtime or are more strict in some areas, just try to come to agreement on the big things and don’t sweat the small ones.

Watching your attitude and minding your tongue.   If conversations come up, do not belittle the other parent to your children.  Do not criticize the other parent to your children.  Do not discuss the divorce, or any other sensitive topics with your children.

Allowing your children to speak freely but stopping negative talk.  Your children do not need to talk badly about your ex or about you when they are with him/her.

Maintaining a united front.  Let the children know that they are expected to follow the rules at the other parent’s house just as they have to follow the rules at home or in the classroom.  After all, different teachers have had different classroom rules, but all the major school rules were the same.  Do not buy into your children complaining by encouraging them to be disobedient.

Letting your children know that it is ok to miss you and that you will miss them during summer possession.   It would be dishonest to say otherwise.  But don’t get carried away or make them feel guilty for leaving you.  And don’t over-indulge them missing you.  It is human nature to want to be the favorite parent, but it is far better for your children if you can be a great co-parent.

Preparing your children for how to handle scary things at a new place.   Reassure them that it’s ok to talk to the other parent about their fears and feelings.

Preparing the other parent for the children.  Let the other parent know of any allergies, fears, capabilities or limitations.  This is especially important when the other parent is not around the children much.  You don’t have to be bossy; just be informative.

Preparing yourself.  If you have not been away from your children much, make plans for how you will use the time you have.  Of course you will miss your child, but the most balanced parents have lives outside their children.  If everything revolves around your children, it is an awful lot of pressure to place on them.

Keeping communication to a reasonable, age-appropriate frequency.  Don’t call – or text, or e-mail – constantly.  Discuss communication with your ex and come up with a reasonable plan then let your children know ahead of time that you will check in with them, but not all the time.  They need time to bond with and rely upon the other parent as well as you.

Relaxing.  Don’t worry about every little thing.  Children are wonderfully resilient.   Unless they are in danger, which is a topic for an entirely different discussion, wave goodbye, wish them well, keep them in your prayers and let them go for a few weeks.

Becoming an Amazing Co-Parent.  BE FLEXIBLE.  BE COOPERATIVE.  BE GRACIOUS.

Non-Primary Parent Summer Possession Tips

Your children may complain about having to come to your home for an extended period.  You are the adult and it is up to you to present a good attitude about the summer possession visit.

Remember, it is perfectly natural for children to resist the idea of spending some time away from what is familiar.  At home, they know what to expect and they know what is expected of them.  Coming to your house, they may be nervous or anxious.

Even children who want to spend time with the non-primary parent have some adjusting to do.  Cut them a little slack and remember, you and your partner divorced one another or split from one another, not from your children.  Some ways you can be a great co-parent are:

Discussing the Summer plans with your ex.  Even if you don’t have a very good relationship with your ex, try to have a productive conversation for the sake of the children.   See if the two of you can get on the same page, or close to it, for rules, expectations and discipline.  Remember, you don’t have to agree on everything.  It’s ok if they allow a little later bedtime or are more strict in some areas, just try to come to agreement on the big things and don’t sweat the small ones.

Watching your attitude and minding your tongue.   If conversations come up, do not belittle the other parent to your children.  Do not criticize the other parent to your children.  Do not discuss the divorce, or any other sensitive topics with your children.

Allowing your children to speak freely but stopping negative talk.  Your children do not need to talk badly about your ex with you or about you when they are with him/her.

Maintaining a united front.  Let the children know that they are expected to follow the rules at the your house during summer possession and at the other parent’s house just as they have to follow the rules at home or in the classroom.  After all, different teachers have had different classroom rules, but all the major school rules were the same.  Do not buy into your children telling you that they do it differently at home.

Letting your children know that it is ok to miss the other parent and that you are sure the other parent misses them.   It would be dishonest to say otherwise.  Do not make them feel guilty for missing their Mom or Dad.  And don’t over-indulge them to try to make up for it.  Children can figure out very early on how to play a situation to their advantage.

Preparing your children for how to handle scary things at a new place.   Reassure them that it’s ok to talk to you about their fears and feelings.  Don’t make light of things, but don’t over react either.

Preparing the other parent for any changes.  Let the other parent know of any new allergies, fears, capabilities or limitations.  Be especially sure to let the other parent know if there are any injuries.  Also be sure to let the other parent know of any milestones, like new teeth, new abilities – “hey, he can ride a bike without training wheels” or anything you would want to know if the situation were reversed.

Preparing yourself.  If you have not been around your children much, or for extended periods, make plans for how you will use the time you have.  Think of some things you can do to allow you to be together and interacting, things you can do together but not necessarily interacting and things your child can do independently.  Maybe you want to learn something together or go to a zoo, botanical garden, aquarium or amusement park.  But maybe you just want to see that new movie that just came out.  Or maybe your child wants to take swimming lessons or horseback lessons.  It is also great to just have down time together.

Keeping communication to a reasonable, age-appropriate frequency.  Don’t refuse to allow your children to communicate with the other parent.  Discuss communication with your ex and come up with a reasonable plan then let your children know ahead of time that Mom or Dad will check in with them, but not all the time.  They need to know they still have access to the other parent.

Relaxing.  Don’t pressure yourself to create the perfect vacation or experience.  Enjoy your children; let them enjoy you.  You are a parent, not a camp counselor!

Becoming an Amazing Co-Parent.  BE FLEXIBLE.  BE COOPERATIVE.  BE GRACIOUS.

For more information about child custody, divorce with children, or co-parenting, or to talk to an experienced, Board Certified Family Law Attorney contact our office!

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