Parenting time is referred to as quality time spent between the child and a parent. Parenting-time orders are based either the parties’ agreement or the court’s determination of the best interests of the child. Under Michigan law, the presumption is that it is in a child’s best interests to have a strong relationship with both parents.

Photo Credit: Providence Children’s Museum

            A strong relationship with a parent is unique to each parent and child. There are no set activities or amount of time that will develop a strong relationship. The key is to adapt as the child ages. The types of activities a parent may do with a younger child will be different with a teenager. We have five tips to help maintain your strong parent-child relationships, even when your parenting time is limited to alternating weekends. This means that the parent is exercising fifty-two overnights with the child.

Our first tip is to increase the number of positive reactions with the child. Researchers have said that it takes five positive interactions for each negative interaction with a child. When a parent is limited to alternate weekend parenting time, overcoming negative interactions with the child can be difficult. Often, the parent may feel like it is impossible to overcome one negative interaction. Researchers suggest aiming for physical connections, playing with your children, limiting technology during your interactions, listening while showing empathy to the child, and showing up.

Our second tip is to find activities that interest your child. When parenting time is limited, the key is to focus on activities that interest the child and maintain a healthy emotional connection with the child. Two key ways to finding the activities that interest your children is to respect the child’s choices and make them a priority in your life. With limited parenting time opportunities, this feel like the parent is the one who is making all the sacrifices for the child. But this is what a typical parent does, regardless of marital status. As community recreation and club sports replace traditional school-based extracurricular activities, more parents are spending their weekends sitting on sidelines and cheering on their children in a chosen sport. By taking time out to cheer your child on from the sideline or even volunteering to coach, the parent can reinforce a healthy relationship that can be strained the demands of the school year.  

Our third tip for maintaining strong relationships is to eat meals as a family.  With the demands on family life, eating as a family can difficult. For parents exercises weekend parenting time, make definite plans to have dinner at the table, without technology, and spend time talking to your child about their week, struggles, and achievements. The conversations may be more one-sided when children are eager to return to technology or activities with their friends.

The fourth tip that we have is to develop and maintain bedtime rituals. Rituals may be the only time busy families can spend quality time with children. Bedtime rituals can be tailored for the age of the children. With young children, snuggling and reading a bedtime story or creating stories together can be a treasured time to reassure a young child that they are safe in the dark. As the child begins to read, the story can reinforce and encourage strong reading skills that will lay a solid foundation for upcoming education. Even teenage children can have bedtime rituals involving parents finding special ways to communicate their love.

The fifth tip is to never use your parenting time to discuss any aspect of the case with the child. Your children only have one childhood. Do not share your issues or problems with the child. Your children are not here to solve your problems. They need to be able to be children without the stresses of your life as well.

Parenting time issues are very common in this day and age. If you are experiencing any issue in parenting time contact us today! We would love to help you redefine your family for the better.

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