Guidebook for dads dealing with baby mama drama

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

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JAMAICA is not short of baby mama/daddy drama — we see separated parents engaged in open brawls all the time. Outside of money, one of the more common areas of conflict is visitation. And while this is a most necessary and critical part of co-parenting arrangements, some women manipulate this feature of co-parenting to uphold a selfish objective.

But clinical psychologist Dr Pearnel Bell said that this can cause significant emotional damage to children who have to balance a stable relationship with both parents. To make these arrangements run seamlessly, she suggests a few useful tips to guide your behaviour when you are the visiting parent.

DOs

Respect the parent you are visiting

No matter how you may feel about the other parent, it is important that you show respect when you visit. A cordial relationship should always be the aim. If you go there and you are disrespectful then you are also jeopardising your chances of being allowed access to their home again.

Be on time

Make sure that you visit at the time agreed for visitation. If you are going to be late or wish to change the date that you are visiting, then you should make sure that you both discuss this before going over.

Respect the other parent's space

It doesn't matter if you lived there and you know where everything is, if you are not invited to roam around the space, then don't. You are a guest and you should respect and observe the boundaries.

DONTs

Don't discuss the affairs of the child in his or her presence

Make sure that all conversations between you and the other parent are done in private. For example, discussions should not play out in front of the child — you should also not confront the other parent in front of the child. A child should be told the conclusion of a discussion that you have had. This can also set up the child to favour one parent over the other.

Don't just pop up

Treating the other parent with respect also means respecting their privacy and space as well. Understand that you cannot barge into their space uninvited even if your sole intention is to visit your children. You are a guest and you should act accordingly.

Don't overstay your welcome

If the agreed period of visitation is three or four hours, then don't just decide to stay five. Do not overstay your welcome because you are not sure what plans the other parent has. If you are in the middle of something with your child and wish to finish then ask the other parent's permission instead of simply deciding to stay.

Don't go off at your ex's new spouse

Chances are if the other parent has moved on then you will see their partner when you go over to visit. Even if it's difficult seeing them with someone else, learn to keep your emotions in check. Don't be selfish; you don't want to jeopardise their chance at happiness.

Don't cause conflict

Disagreements may occur sometimes. We are humans and we don't always see eye to eye. If you are unable contain your flaring temper, then leave. Ask to continue the conversation when you are calm. Never physically or verbally abuse your ex partner.

Don't question the child

Asking your children to share personal details about the other parent is crossing the line. In doing this you teach them to make up stories which could eventually lead to unhealthy habits such as lying and carrying personal private information from house to house.


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