It is a difficult thing to face, but if you have kids, you will have to send them to visitation time with the toxic ex. It’s extremely difficult to get this changed and to get courts to see the damage done to the children.
Unfortunately, the best you can do is try to minimize the problems for the kids. Below are 10 ways that can help when you have to give up the kids for the personality disorder’s (narcissist or borderline) visitation time:
1 – keep diary of interactions – this is very important. Every time you meet with the ex to exchange the kids, write down anything that happened. You may want to record each meeting. If nothing else, knowing they are being recorded may make the narcissist act better. If you are looking for a journal to record pertinent information, check out our Divorce Tracking Journal.
2 – lawyers for the kids – there are lawyers, called Guardian Ad Litem, for the kids. They are supposed to listen to the kids and help fight for what’s best for them. Based on personal experience, it doesn’t seem to work that well, but you might have a better court system and it may be very helpful. Ask your attorney about a GAL.
3 – counseling – it may be best if you look into counseling for the kids. Someone that will listen and help them deal with things. Can a counselor make suggestions to the court? Probably not, so don’t think this will be the godsend you may want it to be. You can talk with your lawyer about it and insist that the other parent respect the counseling and take the kids when they are scheduled. It may also be beneficial if each parent can sit in on a session at times with the kids.
4 – ability to contact, but limited – what this means is that the kids have some way and ability to contact you. If they are young, you can set up a time during visitation for a phone call or video call. Work with your lawyer. It isn’t beneficial to the kids to be texting them or calling them every 5 minutes, it will just add to their instability and anxiousness. But if you have set times, make sure it’s in black and white in the decree and you hold the other parent to it also.
5- wind down time – the kids may be upset and agitated when you get them back. Give them some space and let them unwind. Don’t bombard them with a ton of questions and make them feel worse. If they need to vent, listen without commenting about the situation or the other parent.
6- watch your emotions – keep them in check. Especially anger. It will scare the kids and not help them at all. If you must argue with the ex, do so away from the kids. If an argument breaks out, stop and move away, save it for another time. It’s not about winning, but taking care of the kids.
7 – watch your comments – the kids may relate some horrible things that the ex is doing and you may want to go off about it. Don’t. Listen and then call your lawyer if you have to. Try to get evidence if it’s horrendous. Don’t berate the other parent and say nasty things, it will just make the kids feel worse.
8 – enforce court orders – make sure you are following it and that the other parent is also. If you are to meet at 3 pm, then make sure you are there at 2:55. If you are late for some reason, let the other parent know and get there ASAP. Don’t fall for threats and don’t make them yourself. As long as you are following the court orders you can expect them to also. If not, call the lawyer.
9 – get a parent coordinator – some states will provide this. Basically, it’s someone that acts as a mediator between you and the ex. Someone that will make sure the messages are civil, that no one is abusing the system and everyone follows the orders they are supposed to follow. If you don’t have this, the court might agree to the use of Our Family Wizard. I loved this and it was extremely beneficial.
Hopefully, this checklist makes sense to you, even if you find it difficult to follow at times. Remember, everything you do will be for the kids. If you have questions and problems, talk with your lawyer, the GAL, or the kid’s counselor.
NOTE: none of these deal with any physical violence or any restraining orders. If these are part of what you are dealing with, you will need to work with your lawyer as there may be completely different guidelines for visitation.
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