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Guidelines for Separating Parents

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DO:

1. Develop a workable plan that gives children access to both parents.

2. Keep ongoing contact with the children so they don’t feel rejected or abandoned.

3. Continue reassuring children they can count on both parents.

4. Guard against canceling plans with children.

5. Establish a home for the children with a place for their belongings (toys, clothes, etc.) with both parents.

6. Maintain telephone contact with the children.

7. Have children ready in time for the other parent.

8. Be home on time to welcome the children for visitation.

9. Keep parental communication lines open.

10. Have separate clothes, toys, seasonal needs, bikes, and games. Minimize or
eliminate back and forth commotion between two households.

11. Conduct exchanges at neutral locations. Avoid exchanges at one another’s
homes when parent conflict is high.

12. Distribute parental responsibilities, such as helping children with homework, working on projects for school or fun, and enforcing chores.

13. Honor all terms of visitation, shared time, exchanges.

14. Keep one another promptly informed of children’s medical status, doctor visits, prescriptions (dosage, etc), school progress, developmental milestones (first menstrual period, etc).

15. Exercise caution and good judgment re: children’s bathing, tickling, and applying topical ointments to genital areas, giving enemas, sleeping in the same bed, showering together.

16. Safely secure “adult magazines, videotapes, birth control devices. Lock up all
guns.

17. Establish time for children to be available to talk to the other parent on the phone. Especially with young children, and in the opening months of divorce, make a priority to allowing your children frequent phone access to the absent parent.

18. Help young children reduce “separation anxiety” by allowing pictures of the other parent. Even better is a videotape of the other parent at home, going about everyday routines.

19. Be extremely cautious in taking what children (especially young ones) say about  the other parent, and what goes on in that parent’s household, at face value.  Children exaggerate, fabricate, misinterpret, can confuse fantasy with fact, and “play” to parents’ fear and angers.

20. Negotiate as far in advance as possible (several weeks if possible) for
modifications of weekend schedules, holiday times, and summer vacations.
Follow through faithfully in honoring all such negotiated agreements.

21. Acknowledge your child’s stated emotional reactions to the other parent (or
stepparent), without “buying into” the child’s story: “You sure hate it when your
dad gives you a “time out” versus “I’m so sorry your dad is such a jerk to you; no
wonder you get so upset when the time comes for you to go there.”

DO NOT:
1. Pump your children for information about the other parent.

2. Try to control the other through the children.

3. Use the children to carry messages back and forth.

4. Use children to deliver support payments.

5. Argue in front of the children.

6. Speak derogatorily about the other parent.

7. Ask children with whom they want to live.

8. Put children in the position of having to take sides.

9. Use the children as pawns to hurt the other parent.

10. Give the children discretionary control over scheduled time with the other parent.

11. Create an artificial world, or “repay” children (atone for one’s own guilt with
indulgences- i.e., “Disneyland Parent”.

12. Conduct business with other parent on the phone within children’s hearing. (Best to schedule a set time every week or two to discuss  parenting business, preferably when children are in bed or during the day when children are away at school).

13. Send children into other parent’s home, especially without that parent’s presence or
permission, to get personal items or things that “belong” to the other parent.

14. Put children in the middle. DON’T TALK IN NEGATIVE WAYS ABOUT THE
OTHER PARENT. CALL THAT PERSON NAMES, DISCUSS THAT PARENT’S BEHAVIOR DURING MARRIAGE.  DON’T SHARE YOUR POOR OPINIONS OF THE OTHER PARENT’S NEW MATE. DON’T SEND MESSAGES, SUPPORT CHECKS, AND LEGAL PAPERS WITH CHILDREN FROM ONE HOUSE TO THE OTHER.

15. Flaunt fun activities (Disneyland, etc.) scheduled at times child will be with the
other parent; don’t suggest the child negotiate with the other parent to suspend
visitation so child can be included in the outing (birthday celebration, etc.); above
all else, don’t use other parent’s refusal to make a concession as ammunition to
discredit that parent (“Your dad doesn’t love you; all he ever thinks about is
himself; Paul’s dad lets him change his weekends … “)

16. Send children to the other parent dirty, in soiled clothing, hungry, deprived of a needed nap, sick without explanation, etc.

17. Insist children call a new spouse or mate “Mom” or “Dad”.

18. Leave the answering machine on all the time, thereby making it impossible or at best difficult for the other parent to make phone contact with the children.

19. Talk “adult business” with the children. This includes financial pressures,
intentions for upcoming court proceedings, tactics discussed with attorneys,
feelings about the other party’s new significant other (“she got just the person she deserved”), hardships created by the family’s finances (paying support, or not
receiving it).

20. Ask children “Where do you want to live” or in any way manipulate children’s
loyalties. Avoid leading children to believe that the outcome of custody and visitation hinges on their preferences, comfort, etc.

21. “Grill” the children when they return to you after spending time with the other
parent. Children are extremely sensitive to clues parents give off based on fear of
what might have happened at the other parent’s home, and hatred of the other parent (or the other parent’s new significant other).

CHILDREN HAVE A NEED FOR CONTINUOUS CONTACT WITH BOTH
PARENTS. CHILDREN DO BEST WHEN THEY KNOW THEY CAN GIVE
AND RECEIVE LOVE TO AND FROM BOTH PARENTS WITHOUT
FEELING DISAPPROVAL FROM EITHER PARENT.

DO:

GUIDELINES FOR SEPARATING PARENTS

1. Develop a workable plan that gives children access to both parents.

2. Keep ongoing contact with the children so they don’t feel rejected or abandoned.

3. Continue reassuring children they can count on both parents.

4. Guard against canceling plans with children.

5. Establish a home for the children with a place for their belongings (toys, clothes,
etc.) with both parents.

6. Maintain telephone contact with the children.

7. Have children ready in time for the other parent.

8. Be home on time to welcome the children for visitation.

9. Keep parental communication lines open.

10. Have separate clothes, toys, seasonal needs, bikes, and games. Minimize or
eliminate back and forth commotion between two households.

11. Conduct exchanges at neutral locations. Avoid exchanges at one another’s
homes when parent conflict is high.

12. Distribute parental responsibilities, such as helping children with homework,
working on projects for school or fun, and enforcing chores.

13. Honor all terms of visitation, shared time, exchanges.

14. Keep one another promptly informed of children’s medical status, doctor visits,
prescriptions (dosage, etc), school progress, developmental milestones (first
menstrual period, etc).
1

15. Exercise caution and good judgment re: children’s bathing, tickling, and applying
topical ointments to genital areas, giving enemas, sleeping in the same bed,
showering together.
16. Safely secure “adult magazines, videotapes, birth control devices. Lock up all
guns.

17. Establish time for children to be available to talk to the other parent on the phone.
Especially with young children, and in the opening months of divorce, make a
priority to allowing your children frequent phone access to the absent parent.

18. Help young children reduce “separation anxiety” by allowing pictures of the other
parent. Even better is a videotape of the other parent at home, going about everyday
routines.

19. Be extremely cautious in taking what children (especially young ones) say about
the other parent, and what goes on in that parent’s household, at face value.
Children exaggerate, fabricate, misinterpret, can confuse fantasy with fact, and
“play” to parents’ fear and angers.

20. Negotiate as far in advance as possible (several weeks if possible) for
modifications of weekend schedules, holiday times, and summer vacations.
Follow through faithfully in honoring all such negotiated agreements.

21. Acknowledge your child’s stated emotional reactions to the other parent (or
stepparent), without “buying into” the child’s story: “You sure hate it when your
dad gives you a “time out” versus “I’m so sorry your dad is such a jerk to you; no
wonder you get so upset when the time comes for you to go there.”
2

DO NOT:
1. Pump your children for information about the other parent.

2. Try to control the other through the children.

3. Use the children to carry messages back and forth.

4. Use children to deliver support payments.

5. Argue in front of the children.
6. Speak derogatorily about the other parent.

7. Ask children with whom they want to live.

8. Put children in the position of having to take sides.

9. Use the children as pawns to hurt the other parent.

10. Give the children discretionary control over scheduled time with the other parent.

11. Create an artificial world, or “repay” children (atone for one’s own guilt with
indulgences- i.e., “Disneyland Parent”.

12. Conduct business with other parent on the phone within children’s hearing. (Best to
schedule a set time every week or two to discuss  parenting business, preferably
when children are in bed or during the day when children are away at school).

13. Send children into other parent’s home, especially without that parent’s presence or
permission, to get personal items or things that “belong” to the other parent.

14. Put children in the middle. DON’T TALK IN NEGATIVE WAYS ABOUT THE
OTHER PARENT. CALL THAT PERSON NAMES, DISCUSS THAT
PARENT’S BEHAVIOR DURING MARRIAGE.  DON’T SHARE YOUR
POOR OPINIONS OF THE OTHER PARENT’S NEW MATE. DON’T SEND
MESSAGES, SUPPORT CHECKS, AND LEGAL PAPERS WITH CHILDREN
FROM ONE HOUSE TO THE OTHER.

15. Flaunt fun activities (Disneyland, etc.) scheduled at times child will be with the
other parent; don’t suggest the child negotiate with the other parent to suspend
visitation so child can be included in the outing (birthday celebration, etc.); above
3

all else, don’t use other parent’s refusal to make a concession as ammunition to
discredit that parent (“Your dad doesn’t love you; all he ever thinks about is
himself; Paul’s dad lets him change his weekends … “)

16. Send children to the other parent dirty, in soiled clothing, hungry, deprived of a
needed nap, sick without explanation, etc.

17. Insist children call a new spouse or mate “Mom” or “Dad”.

18. Leave the answering machine on all the time, thereby making it impossible or at
best difficult for the other parent to make phone contact with the children.

19. Talk “adult business” with the children. This includes financial pressures,
intentions for upcoming court proceedings, tactics discussed with attorneys,
feelings about the other party’s new significant other (“she got just the person she
deserved”), hardships created by the family’s finances (paying support, or not
receiving it).

20. Ask children “Where do you want to live” or in any way manipulate children’s
loyalties. Avoid leading children to believe that the outcome of custody and
visitation hinges on their preferences, comfort, etc.

21. “Grill” the children when they return to you after spending time with the other
parent. Children are extremely sensitive to clues parents give off based on fear of
what might have happened at the other parent’s home, and hatred of the other parent
(or the other parent’s new significant other).

CHILDREN HAVE A NEED FOR CONTINUOUS CONTACT WITH BOTH
PARENTS. CHILDREN DO BEST WHEN THEY KNOW THEY CAN GIVE
AND RECEIVE LOVE TO AND FROM BOTH PARENTS WITHOUT
FEELING DISAPPROVAL FROM EITHER PARENT.

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