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Making the most of visits with noncustodial children

If you are a parent who does not have primary custody of your child, you may have standing visits with your son or daughter over the summer, on certain holidays or what have you. Because you only have limited time to spend with your child, you probably want to make every effort to ensure a smooth, positive visit that strengthens your parent-child relationship.

That may prove easier said than done, however, and particularly if you and your child often go long periods without speaking or spending time together. So, before your child arrives for his or her next visit with you, consider taking the following steps:

Set clear expectations

While outlining clear behavioral guidelines for your noncustodial child when he or she is in your care is certainly important, so, too, is setting expectations with anyone else living in your home. Make sure all children in the home abide by the same rules, regardless of whether they live there full time. Furthermore, if you now have a new romantic partner, make sure you, and you alone, serve as the primary disciplinarian of your visiting child.

Avoid attempting to “buy” love

Because you only see your child periodically, you may feel tempted to pull out all the stops during a short visit. While visiting theme parks and going on shopping sprees can be fun, chances are, what your visiting child desires more than anything is simply to spend time in your presence, talking, laughing and getting to know you better. So, take a walk, make dinner together or simply do something that encourages conversation.

Stay cordial with your former partner

Odds are, your child will feel more relaxed and able to enjoy your time together if his or her other parent is on board with your visit and supportive of your time spent together. No, you do not have to be best friends with your ex. Staying cordial, though, can work wonders in terms of enhancing your child’s comfort in your home.

Visits with your noncustodial child are essential if you wish to maintain an engaged presence in his or her life, and these tips may help those visits generate positive, lifelong memories for you and your son or daughter.

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