Few, if any, parents would wish to punish their children for something they had nothing to do with, and would bristle at such a suggestion. And yet, so many do just that.
This frequently happens in divorces where a parent has had an affair, has spent an inordinate amount of time at work and less at home, or has ceded most of the parenting responsibilities to the other.
These parents when separating or divorcing believe they are entitled to significantly more parenting time because the other parent has squandered his or her right to that time based on these reasons. Why should he or she have the right to now spend so much time with the children they ask? And the reason is because it’s better for children to have a good and healthy relationship with that parent than not.
A parenting plan is not intended to be in the best interests of parents; it should be about the best interests of the children. And a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with both of their parents is what is best for children.
Some may ask if it’s fair that someone can mess up so terribly and then still get to take those children that they practically raised all by themselves, for overnights and vacations? Yes, it is.
Just because the other parent hurt you or betrayed you and maybe even was not as good a parent as he/she could have been, doesn’t require that they give up the opportunity to be a good or better parent. Very often, parents are actually better parents after a divorce.
There is no doubt that this can be painful. The idea of being without your children some of the time, when you have been the primary parent can be distressing. And sometimes, in these situations, there is a wish to hurt the other parent. But hurting the kids should never be an option.
In these situations, professional help in coping with the absence of the children or the pain and anger is especially helpful. Or perhaps a parenting plan that starts slowly with overnights until both you and the children are comfortable with the time the other parent wants. So, work with a therapist to deal with the loss and anger and perhaps both of you work with a child or co-parenting specialist to help with these issues.
But don’t punish the children for something they had nothing to do with, by preventing them from enjoying a meaningful and healthy relationship with both of their parents.