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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Parenting Time

Term Definition Parenting Time - phrase used in place of visitation.
Application in Divorce The term parenting time has now eclipsed visitation in reference to the time a divorced parent, particularly the noncustodial parent, spends with his or her child after a divorce.

There are books aplenty about divorced parenting, which is freighted with all the difficulties of parenting and the additional weight of divorce.

In divorced parenting, both the custodial and noncustodial parent should remember one axiom: a former spouse who hurts the child’s other parent hurts the children.

A good parenting plan helps, but animating it in the here and the now can be very difficult. Any father who has had the experience of picking his or her child at what had been his home knows the emotional roller coaster of divorced parenting. One of the drawbacks of scheduled parenting time is that the best moments in life very often happen spontaneously. "Let’s have fun" can be a dead weight around the neck of an outing by a noncustodial father visiting his child.

A "good" parenting agreement spells out the terms and conditions of custody; but what no prewritten plan can do, however, is spontaneously come to life in those moments when parents and children find meaning and beauty in the love they share for each other.

Because the noncustodial parent’s time is limited, it is a good idea to use the time in ways that make it memorable. Children get bored with toys that break in any event; memories last forever and get better with time.

A noncustodial parent should never use parenting time as a debriefing session for intelligence about the comings and goings of the custodial parent.

Divorced parents are often racked by guilt, and they often overcompensate by being excessively indulgent. Very often the children, sensing this, will try to play one parent against the other, and because the parents are not present together, they cannot easily reinforce each other.

The children of divorce often fall victim to two notions. One, they very often imagine they are the cause of their parents’ divorce. Divorcing parents must assure young children this is not the case. Two, they often fantasize about the reunification of their parents. Divorced parents should discourage this.

A child of divorce carries a heavy load: he or she can seldom, if ever, be with both parents at the same time. At the least, a parent must reassure the children that they are loved and will be protected.

It is a good idea to let people who are around a child know that his or her parents are divorcing or recently divorced. Teachers and friends’ parents notice changes that indicate a child is having trouble coping.

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