Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Guest blogger: When Kids Outgrow Visitation Schedules

May 13, 2013

by Scott Morgan

Scott Morgan is a board certified Texas family law attorney who regularly blogs on the subject of divorce and family law. Check out his blog on the Morgan Law Firm website.

Teens demand lots of space from parents, divorced or not

Parents want to see their children grow to become independent, freethinking individuals with the social skills needed to foster relationships independent of mom and dad. Rarely, though, are parents heard to rejoice as their teenagers assert their independence and develop relationships outside the home to the exclusion of time spent with mom and dad.

As an attorney whose practice focuses on divorce and family law, I go to court all the time to enforce child custody and visitation agreements and court orders, but sometimes the law does not provide a practical solution. Recently, a client came to me with a problem that the law and the courts could not resolve. The client was a noncustodial parent who had never had problems with his former spouse regarding visitation with the parties’ only child. Now, years after the divorce, my client could not arrange visits with the child.

I read the visitation agreement, and it was clear and specific as to days and times of visitation.
I would have suggested going back to court to enforce visitation, but my client was not having a problem with the former spouse. The obstacle standing in the way of my client’s visitation was the child or, more accurately, the child who had grown into a teenager.

A visitation schedule that specified that the child would visit with the client on alternating weekends, on specified holidays and for a month during the summer had worked well when the child was younger. As the child got older, something occurred that most non-custodial parents eventually discover about visitation schedules: children outgrow them.

Inflexible visitation schedules minimize conflicts and disagreements between the custodial and non-custodial parent following a divorce by eliminating the need for the parties to engage in discussions about the scheduling of visits. The rigid schedule lets each parent know what is expected and eliminates the potential for disputes.

Unfortunately, the strict schedule that worked so well when the young child did whatever mom and dad said to do became a problem as the child got older. Visitation then took a back seat to school athletics, social events or just hanging out with friends.

How can you as a noncustodial parent maneuver through the teen years and still maintain a solid and involved relationship with your child? Here are a few suggestions that have worked for well many of my clients in their post-divorce teen year struggles.

Forget About Enforcement and Punishment

Without proof that your former spouse is influencing your child’s conduct or otherwise preventing you from exercising your visitation rights there is not much that a judge can or will do about your situation. Unless you and your spouse can agree on a flexible schedule of visitation, the burden falls upon you to resolve your problems with your child.

Threats or punishment will not resolve a visitation problem, at least not in a way that is in the long-term best interest of the relationship with your child. Punishment or threats usually lead to hostility and resentment. Do you want to spend the weekend with a hostile, recalcitrant human being whose only desire is to get away from you?

Flexibility Has to Start With Someone

Show your child you can be flexible. Your visitation schedule may be inflexible, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be. When you are scheduled to visit, extend an invitation to your teenager. Give your child the opportunity to accept or decline. Do not be upset if your teen declines the invitation. After all, it was an invitation and not an order. Extend the invitation again the next time you are scheduled to visit. While at some point you may need to take a different approach, first try to let your child decide that they want to spend time with you. Once you give them the option and make it clear that you would like to spend time with them they may surprise you and agree to go.

Do Not Give Up

If an athletic or other public event in which your child is participating interferes with a scheduled visitation date, arrange to go see your teenager in the event. The message you will be sending is that you want to be involved in your teenager’s life and that you are willing to take the time to make that happen. Make it clear to them that because it is important to them, it is important to you.

Keep In Touch

We live in an age of cell phones, text messaging, emails and countless other ways to stay in touch with each other on a daily basis. Just because your teenager’s schedule does not allow time for you to visit, a text message lets your child see that you are making an effort to stay in touch and stay connected.

Remember, They Really Do Outgrow It

Being flexible, extending invitations and not orders, and staying in touch will help you to maintain a relationship with your child until the day comes that your child accepts your invitation to visit or responds to a text message. They all grow out of it eventually. The trick is not to react during the teen years in a way that harms your future relationship with your son or daughter.

Filed under: Parenting,Tips — Tags: , , , , — Annie @ 1:28 pm
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Guest Blogger: Fathers shape daughters

February 10, 2010

Her first sweetheart is Dad

Her first sweetheart is Dad

By Richard “RJ” Jaramillo

RJ Jaramillo is Founder and President of SingleDad.com He is also a single father of three children. With over nine years of experience helping other Single Parents with advice, support, and resources, RJ is excited to share his company and personal mission on teaching others how to “Make Life Happen…Again!”


I was recently interviewed on a single parent radio show about my dating habits and how I choose the women I date. I was asked to make a “top 3 list” on things I look for in a woman.  While doing this, I became aware of a more powerful parenting topic: father and daughter relationships and how fathers shape their daughters’ future relationships with men. Here is my “Top 3 List on Single Parent Dating” and my personal opinions on the importance of having a good relationship with your daughter that will help shape her future relationships.

What I look for #1: What’s Her Relationship with Her Parents?

I always want to know the relationship that a woman has with her parents, especially with her father. I know this may sound strange, but when I ask this question I want to know their past and present relationship. Do they see or talk to each other often? Is there an absence? What is the frequency of contact?  Some of this information can really open up a can of worms and I have been caught off guard when I hear a painful story unfold. Now, in all fairness, I try to remain impartial and understand both sides. But in cases of stories where the father and daughter no longer have a relationship, what has surprised me the most is the lack of forgiveness from the fathers. They felt there was more value in punishing the other person with silence and absence, then forgiving someone of their mistakes, misunderstandings or miscommunication. I have dated women with poor relationships with their parents and I feel that these women, who have little or no understanding of offering or accepting an apology or practicing forgiveness, just shut down and move on when relationship issues arise.

Father and Daughter Tip #1: It’s never too late to apologize.

Make the time, be present and teach your daughter the power of an apology and the emotion behind forgiveness. I know I am not perfect. I have allowed too much time between poor behavior and apologies at times. I feel that most fathers don’t understand the importance of catching their faults early. What I see far too often in men is that they will just “play nice” the next day and allow their nice demeanor portray the apology. This is not the same as an apology. This pretend game is called the silent treatment and it is not good. You are allowing the hurt emotions of the relationship to become trapped and unresolved.  This is not teaching our daughters how to resolve conflict and they will take this behavior with them into their future relationships. My solution to this problem is simple. I promise myself not to let too much time go past, be present with my daughter, and address my actions and why I am asking for her forgiveness. This is a good way to teach our child humility, humanity and most importantly emotional connection. If we want a connection, there is no better way than to be human and create that emotion through an apology. Read more…

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