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Activities for Children

What am I going to do with my child on the visit?

 

This is a complex question for many parents going through the process of having Monitored visitations to say the least.  Many parents have not seen their children for a long time.  They want their children to have fun.  They wish to create a memorable experience that the child will remember and cherish.  Parents strive to maintain, build or rebuild their relationship with the child but without going broke. Just going through a typical divorce is going to change the dynamics of you relationship with your children. Your children will adjust and survive, and you will too!

There are several issues that parents may face.  They have been apart from their children for a variety of circumstances.  Some parents didn’t have an active day-to-day role with their children because of cultural values, alienation from the other parent, incidents of domestic violence, or weak parenting skills.  Another important problem arises when parents are unable to keep their children safe or lacked the ability to set effective boundaries while in the relationship with the family unit.  We are not judging; we only have observed this issue from the families we have served in the past.

The following may be unfamiliar concepts for parents: spending time one-on-one with children, taking responsibility for children’s physical and emotional care, changing diapers, feeding and interacting with children, keeping children safe, being a parent and not a friend.  Having the ability to direct and create an upbeat positive environment for children is very important.  For some parents, this may be a new experience.

The bad news is your being monitored.  The good news is you being monitored, so let’s turn this situation around and make some lemonade.  It is a great opportunity to expand and build stronger positive parenting skills with your children.  Let the journey begin.

Children are simple; you don’t need to bribe them for their love.  We can’t worry about what others might have said to our children in the past about us.  We need to take positive action and move forward with our children.  We parents need to start gaining and maintaining a respectful relationship with our children.  For some it is a long and difficult process.  Remember that children grow up; they will know the truth one way or the other and build their relationship with you on their own terms.  If they want to be in your life after they grow up, that will be their choice.  You are their mentor and need to help them grow to be successful, happy adults.

Many parents are in difficult financial circumstances: no employment, being involved in a long, tedious, high-conflict divorce or custody battle, battling with their own addictions etc. This is a tough time, to say the least.   Remember that the one most important thing you can do for yourself and your children is to share quality time together and to be consistent so that the children can depend on seeing you.  Even if it is only once a month for an hour, be consistent.  This is what you’re fighting for, after all.

Depending on their age, children may or may not understand the concept of the passage of time or what time, days, weeks, or months are.  Show younger children a calendar so that they will know that your time with them is important. We know that not all situations are the same.  Most children want to see their parents; however, because of domestic violence, parent alienation, or other difficult family dynamics, some don’t.  You will need to be patient, hang in there, and keep moving forward.  Don’t give up.  When a traditional visitation does not work, there are other alternatives.  We are describing times when the children want to participate on the visit with their parent.

I have been providing Monitored Visitations for 20 years.  Many children just want to see their parent and know that the parent is concerned and cares about them.  Parents need to be patient.  Your children are just as upset as you are.  They are grieving the loss of their family unit.  Many children are in a difficult position.  They live with one parent and are worried about losing their connection with the other. They don’t always have a voice.  They are trying to survive this conflict.  Every situation is different; the set of dynamics is different.  We appreciate that and understand that the court order may limit the type of activities depending on the allegations for now, things will change. It is worth the climb, up the highest mountain.

You have a golden opportunity to build new bridges with your child.  Your child is growing up.  It is vital if you really want a relationship in the child’s future.  Like all things in life, things change. You need to hang in there and focus on your children and not on your ex-spouse or partner. This is how it is now, today.  It is hard, I know!

Money should not be the main concern of your visitation.  Children like simple things: making cookies, doing puzzles, playing cards, going to the park, making paper planes, etc.  Parents need can be creative depending on the time allowed, age, and financial circumstance. Do not feel bad; you don’t need to be a Disneyland Mommy or Daddy, trying to buy your children’s  love when you can’t afford it.  Even if you could, try to make a visit more real.  This sets a bad precedent; in future your child may always expect you to take them somewhere special, or give or buy something special.  Things will change in the future. This is not how an enriching relationship is built.  You need to pay attention to your child and give of yourself by interacting. It’s OK to shop with your eyes, not your hands or pockets.  A gift is a gift for a special occasion.

Sometimes parents need a few suggestions. We will continually be working on developing suggestions and activities parents can do with their children.  They will be offering a wide range of costs from free as a park or library to Disneyland.   Activities will be based on locations, cost, and the children’s age.  We will post monthly seasonal and special events which children and parents can enjoy together as well as easy arts and crafts parents can do with their children.  Relationships are not based on material things.  Parents should approach these visits as an adventure.  This is a learning opportunity for you and your children.  Try new things; get out of your comfort zone, be the leader, direct your child. This will help you and your child to create a new and stronger relationship together. Remember, you want to be verbally and physically interactive with your child.  Playing video games on phones or DS is not interacting with your children. Try to do things you can share together. Your time is precious.

This is a stressful situation, and we understand.  We want to help you make the best of your situation. Think of the future possibilities, the bond you are building with your child, and be the best parent you can be today.  There is not perfection; being a parent is like a fine art piece in progress.  It will help you be the best in your life.  When the dust dies down, it is our relationship with our children that matters most, they are our legacy.

Enjoy!  We hope this information will be valuable to you and your children.  We also appreciate it when parents have suggestions we can post along with all comments.

 

– The Director