My children are acting out after visitations with their father! What should I do?

Serenity - posted on 07/19/2009 ( 21 moms have responded )

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My ex and I have recently -finally- figured out a reasonable (or so I thought) arrangement for visitation. My daughter (age 8) is on a track system with school, so they go from Las Vegas where they live with me to San Diego where he lives, for 2 weeks every track break. This is about 4-5 times per year. I had pretty much sole custody with small visitations (maybe a night or 2 and frequent daytimes together) up until about 10 months ago when he moved out of town and they started the longer trips (1-2 weeks) with him. Problem being: they come back and are having big issues adjusting for quite a while. My son (age 4), acts out, refuses to follow basic rules that he is used to having, and usually follows before he leaves, throws severe tantrums that involve physically lashing out, as well as being very sensitive, and falling apart over normally what are small issues for him. Normally, he is high energy, but not nearly as combatitive or angry. My daughter reacts by being withdrawn. Her reaction is not as severe I suppose, but I still worry about it.



This will go on for about 2 weeks after they get back. It's like I have to spend that time getting them back into being the children they normally are. It is very stressfull on everyone in the household, and I worry about how it is affecting the children, and I wonder if this arrangement is just wrong for them. I can't pull their father's rights, and don't wish to even, but is this something that my kids will get used to eventually or will this continue to disrupt their lives this harshly?



I am just looking for suggestions about what I can do to help my kids adjust to this, if at all possible. Is this a normal thing? How can I help everyone cope? Or should I be adjusting the visitations? I just don't know what to do. Thank you for any and all advice!

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Laura - posted on 08/28/2009

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It is the transition from one parent to the other that is difficult for all. I have a hot tub and we all jump in it. This gives them the opportunity to talk and then relax so we can shift into Mommy time. Try to come up with a ritual every time they come home, something they will look forward to. Hopefully it gives them the freedom to talk without judgment, creating a peaceful shift into mommy's world.

Karen - posted on 07/20/2009

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Hi Serenity!

This is VERY normal behavior. I used to go through the same thing with my daughter when she returned from a weekend at her dad's.

There are probably a few things contributing to the behavior. With my daughter it was the change in rules between the two households, a fear/feeling that we had too much fun while she was gone that she missed out on, and an insecurity fostered by this feeling that she was not loved and wanted as much.

The first thing to do is to try to identify the issues underlying the behavior - which is a lot trickier than it sounds since the kids probably are not aware enough of what is driving their behavior to put it in words. You just have to observe their behavior before they go and when they get back and see if you can identify any triggers - are they extra clingy? Do they state that you don't love them? (If you know what the parenting habits of your ex are, it may be easier to identify some of the issues stemming from those differences.)

To address the differences in rules and parenting methods, I waited until a calm time (a few days after she got back) and discussed some of the differences in rules. We talked about how important proper behavior is and how she needs to be aware of the differences so that she can avoid problems there and at our home. We discussed this again again a couple of days before she left for her next visit. This discussion was an acknowledgment of the differences and how hard that transaction might be.

We made sure to spend a little extra time together before my daughter left (10 to 15 minutes before weekend visits, an hour or so before longer visits). This was very low stress time during which I would tell her how much I love her and was going to miss her.

When she returned we would spend a few minutes talking about her time with her father. I would tell her how much I loved her and missed her and let her know I thought about her while she was gone. I would then gently remind her that our rules apply at our house and she needs to act accordingly.

It took a few visits, but the transaction eventually got a lot easier and now there is no acting out no matter how long she is at her dad's.

(My daughter's dad doesn't like to hear about what she does with us, and she was self-imposing that same restriction when she returned to our house. Part of the problem was this feeling of two lives which could not be shared. Letting her know she could talk freely about the time at her dad's was a big step in reducing the acting out as well.)

Good luck!

Claudia - posted on 05/02/2013

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Im stumped by my daughter's behaviour as well. Her father and I have a very good co-parenting relationship but lately she's really been acting out with me when she gets back from his house - usually just that night or morning. He sees none of that but I have her much more of the time.

Rhiannon - posted on 08/26/2009

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I have been divorced since 2002 and my kids spend a couple weeks during the summer and some holidays with their dad and his family. They are so excited to see the kids they do everything for them and let them do whatever they want. My now 10 yo girl and 8 yo boy have been in this enviorment for several years yet they still take a few days to get back to normal. I always pick them up from the airport and before we walk back in the house I remind them to "shake off" the 'daddys' (they literally shake like the hokey pokey) and remember they are back at home and are expected to act that way.

It still takes some definate reminders that the rules are still the same as when they left and a couple days to get them back into a routine. I think the routine is the key, just like adults kids like what is familiar and change will unnerve them evrytime. Just imagine you go on a business trip and have to work for a different boss, in a different city, with different expectations.

Lori - posted on 08/23/2009

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I have had the same problem when my kids would go see their dad, all I did was gave them the love that they needed cause of the separation from their dad.. Of course I had found out as well their dad was talking to them about the adult problems that him an I were going through an still are but I just reassure them that we both love them an its not their fault that mommy and daddy can't be together anymore.

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Sam - posted on 09/25/2014

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Last 5 years my ex she got sole custody and she made so many false statement like this
our son when he returns back to her and he is acting out , the fact when he goes back she is jealous, this child since he was 1 year old I was the caregiver not her,I was the person who change his diapers, drove him at night till he sleep, she try to use the very same excuse to limit our time together now we have only 7 hours a week, he wants to speak to the judge, he told the minor's counsel that he wants to be with his dad and visit her, he told the therapist that he is mad from the judge to what he is doing to him ,If the mom she left me because she doesn't love me or want to be with me , why we need to force the child to stay with parent he is not connected, The child ask to put a monitoring
system at there home , to see what she is doing to him after the return and I did challenge her attorney to accept that for 3 months , if she got nothing to hide why not ?
how it feels if you were forced to stay with your spouse ? why it is right to force a child then?
Here is an example of abusive mom or mean, I purchase for child Flying alien from costco, the mom forbid him to bring anything from me with him(cloths,money,toy)
she makes him give it back to me, when they came to the session with the therapist, the child had his toy and he was flying it, but the child and the therapist and I went to the waiting room the mother was waiting ,she told him to give it back to me and she left
now if that child went home start acting up who's fault do you think that is ? who is acting up here the mom or the child ....

Sam - posted on 09/25/2014

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http://www.hostile-aggressive-parenting....


Will create conflict with their child just after visits with the other parent and then blame the other parent for being the cause of the conflict with the child
In many cases, the HAP parent will creates conflict with their child many times when the child returns from visits with the other parent. The parent may interrogate the child about the visit, or may say bad things about the other parent to get the child upset. When the child does get upset out of frustration, the HAP parent will report the child’s behaviour and report that this problem seems caused by the visits with the other parent. In most cases, the HAP parent is trying to have the child’s access to the other parent reduced by placing blame on the other parent.

Nick - posted on 03/19/2013

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As a father with full joint custody and who is EXTREMELY PRESENT in his life I'm kind of offput by these posts. My ex-wife travels regularly, I take him EVERY time she leaves and have dealt with all the schedule changes, aside from my regular 50% care responsibilities. My son and I have a wonderful relationship, his mother and i talk about everything and we're on board fully with joint custody and go-parenting.

Yet his mother reports that he has been acting out with her... aggression and other things,. which I see none of.

So tell me... this is my fault somehow???

Evelyn - posted on 11/20/2012

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A friend of mine had this issue when her two younger ones were little. Potty training for instance was done at her house but the kids would go to dad for the week or weekend and she would be back to square one again when they both came home in diapers. She fought him tooth and nail to get him to follow the schedule. They also had behavior issues too. It took her a week after they returned to get them back to what they were like when at home with her all the time. One of her kids is also on meds for his condition and her oldest had to go with them so she was sure that the meds were given because dad always forgot. Now her kids are older and can fend for themselves more...teens. Dad's visits have become less and less. She still has issues with him over things but the behavior has changed for the better now they are older.

Singlemom Of One - posted on 11/20/2012

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You are correct Sam that the children have two parents. She is thinking of the best interest of the children. Some people that are parents do not know how to share all of the way. If the father is available ten percent that is all alot of us have to work with and ultimately the child pays the price. Marraige and parenting does take two but sometimes the two don't work.

Sam - posted on 09/02/2012

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I am a father and one thing no one here try to understand those children have two parents

the mom does not own them. before you take the child away and leave you should think the

best intrest of the child and not yours and what i see every post her they are consern about them in control and leaving the parent as visiters and that will never work until you learn to share all the way if not it is your fault and you are putting your children in that postion and

trying to take 90% and giving 10% to father and balme him for your faults when the child with your what happens it happens on your clock and it is your fault no else and I am sure every one balme the divorce to the father to. It takes two to keep the marriage and it take two parent to raise the children too so 50/50 all the way

[deleted account]

We are going through the same thing. When my son returns after a weekend visit he seems like a different child . He"s seven and he has become the same very sensitive to everything and sometime lashes out physically. Usually it takes a couple of days for him to get back into his routine. He doesnt listen , he gets physical and is very sensitive to everyone around him. I have tryed to keep his routine consistant, keep the same rules and spend as much time talking to him as possible. He enjoys drawing and we have started a book where he can colour or write out how he is feeling . Giving other outlets to the physical outbursts and encouragement to talk about how he is feeling. Sometimes when he is feeling aggitated we pull out play do or find an alternate activity that he can express his feelings.

Kimberly - posted on 08/18/2009

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I have had the same problem with my kids' dads. I have a conversation with the dads, let them know what happens and ask what goes on their house. I also set rules for the kids then ask the dad to follow through when they are at his house. If the attitudes keep up then I take privileges away until the children adjust to the set rules and consequences. The ex also needs to understand that you are the one who deals with the attitudes and he needs to back you because he is the dad. If problems persist then maybe adjust the visits. Hope this helps.

Lisa - posted on 08/14/2009

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it is hard for them to adjust I too endure this battle or have at the moment his visits are suspended. My three younger children visit and it would be hell in the car ride home and for 3 to 4 days after and then we would repeat it again the next weekend. I just let them vent they are frustrated they want to tell you everything which can be hard but you need to put your feelings aside and focus on them. Just keep doing what you are doing as you know your children the best. You are the expert when it comes to them no matter what anyone says. Keep your wits about you and remember it will eventually pass and they will be ok. My oldest two have choosen not to see him which is good and bad but in the end it is their decision and when yours are old enough they can decide that too. I wish I could wave a magic wand to make it all better for you and the kids but time your love for them and alot of patience will help. I wish you the best and hang in there.

Jeannette - posted on 08/14/2009

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i have been divorced around six yrs and my kid's still act out after just their weekend visit's. i had to adjust and i still had to be the best parent i could be. i still implemented the rules but wasnt as stern on certain one's. my youngest just needed more me time and i spoke with them daily about their emotions and started a star system reward type thing. i also enrolled them in counseling due to some other issues with thier dad but communicaition and redirection was important as well as communication with the dad what kind of rule's,schedule, activity, so forth and if you guy's get along enough you can probably help the kid's in both home's. i had to have it clear to my kid's that each home is going to have slightly different and some non -existant rules and so forth and we both put the card's out on the table. My kid's are older and have had many yrs to adjust and i am remarried now but they do pretty good, although my daughter like's to do the theatric's to see if i'll budge because she is definitely daddy's girl.

Carmen - posted on 08/08/2009

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Well i reccommend to spend little more time with them sit with you 4 year-old and talk to him something is bother him. Maybe the move is a big step for a kid how seeing his father and mother together and them no more. Just be patience and make him fill good, talk to him, talk to you daughther too, the comunication with you daughter is very important make her fill that beside you her mother you can be her best friend, she just eight be she will understand. Tell her that she no need to be scare to tell you anything if something is bothering her she can tell you, no matter what. good luck friend.

[deleted account]

Sadly you just have to persevere with being firm and reinforcing the boundaries, kids need to know these boundaries to feel loved and cared for, when they are at other houses the rules are different and they are re-establishing the boundaries which is very important for them and necessary. You are re-inforcing to them the limits and that you love and care for them which is also important because while they are with their Dad they are missing you.

Laura - posted on 08/03/2009

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My daughter used to have issues after seeing her dad too. I came up with a solution. I found a box (shoe box or so) and let her decorate it any way that she wanted (markers, stickers, etc). In the box, she was able to put in any DADDY ITEMS. It consists of letters that he wrote her, ones that she wrote him, but never sent, trinkets that he has given her, movie ticket stubs, even some grass and acorns that they picked up while walking together. That way, anytime that she was feeling angry or sad about her dad, she would just go and pull out her "Daddy Box". She still has it today at 10 years old, and will occasionally pull it out. But it really helped her when she was younger. Hopefully, it'll help yours too. Good luck!!

Janne Helen - posted on 07/31/2009

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Hmm.. this is though. I got divorced in Novermber last year, but been separated since december 2007 when he moved back to england and took my son with him. I gave him full custody for him just to get rith of him.. The whole relationship was a nightmare..



I only seen my son 3 times since he went back to UK. I saw him for a week there last summer over there and it all went fine then. But at christmas when I only saw him for 3 hours and sad goodbye he cried his heart out when we parted and his father had problems that night. But said to the story he was meant to come with me to Norway for the holiday, but his dad hadn't managed to sort out a pasport for him, even he had had 6 mnths to done it on and I gave him money last summer to specific sort it out too..



He staied for a whole month in February and got his christmas and birthday presents at same time so he got spoilt with gifts. The thing is I live on a farm on the countryside and have plenty of space for him to tumble around on. While at his dads he nearly have nothing compared to here.. The house is 4 times as big as his and the outdoor space is at least 20 times bigger than his backgarden to tumble around on. His grandparents live here too.



I asked to have him for the summer in April and got no answer only that before he said I could.. Then when I asked for spesific dates mid june to mid july he came up with explanations like yours in changed behaviours. He had spoken to health visitor that said he had been spoilt being here and had changed behaviour. The only way to see him was to come to england. He wouldn't let him come here anymore. He even tries out on thinking I would move to another country to live there and see him 2 weekends a month. 2 Cultures that bring up children diferent makes it crash too anyway even here or there.



If the parents can't communicate about the child(ren) propperly it gets hard. If you start dictating instead of communicating, pointing out a view of saying, can you or is it posible, not like YOUR ARE sort of talking and thinking...



Divorces aren't easy not set to be. But normally children changes around who they are with and where they are. Just as much we change around with people and where we are too. Just one of those things we have to accept when we get divorced I think.



Good luck, even though it is very frustrating... Hugs, Janne Helen

Rebecca - posted on 07/31/2009

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Hopefully this information might help you. Right know I have 50-50 custody with my ex-husband. When we first split I had the children age 9 and 6 he would show up when it was convenient for him. Then we went to court and it went to 50-50. When my boys come home from his house they are the same way.We have been doing this for 2 years now and it doesn't take the boys as long to adjust. I found out that at his house they do not get any disipline. They get to do what ever they want and he doesn't spend time with them.So when they come back to my house I have to remind them for the first couple days that they are at my house and there are rules to follow and if not they will get in trouble. Maybe you could try talking to him and see what he says. It should get better it will just take time.

Rebecca - posted on 07/20/2009

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try to adjust the visitations since he has moved farther maybe this is a stress on them. i give my ex 3 weeks in the summer with my kids and i have problems too when they cme back and doing it once a week i found was better but again this is someone who wants them only every other weekend and every other holiday too. but yeah i have been there and yes its stressful... see about adjusting visits talk to him about what is going on and see if he will agree to it. good luck hun

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