ASK LINDA, PSYCHOTHERAPIST, SINGLE MOM:
My ex-wife was awarded primary custody of our 6-year-old son, over my strong objections. I wanted 50/50. Now I’ll suddenly only see him on weekends. We have a very close relationship and I am furious about the situation, my ex’s behavior and the judge’s decision. My son’s going to wonder why I don’t want to see him much anymore. How can I talk to him about this without getting into all the bitterness and anger of the custody dispute, or making him mad at his mom? I don’t want him to think that I don’t want to be with him!
First of all, I’m sorry that you are in this situation. It must be very difficult for you to not be able to see your son first of all on a daily basis and secondly only on the weekend.
The ideal resolution for this situation would be for you and your ex to sit down and agree how to discuss this with your son. If you had trouble doing that on your own, I would suggest reaching out to a professional therapist in order to mediate the situation.
Again, ideally you would want to agree and discuss boundaries about visitation and how you would jointly communicate this to your son.
If your ex-wife will not agree to discuss this with you, you can only control your side of the equation. Calmly outline to your son that you love him and Mommy loves him. In the discussion with him, make it clear whatever the judge has declared. Also, make it clear to him that you cannot change the situation because the judge has made a legal decision. Although the boundaries may be clear to you, he may be very confused. Always remember that boundaries mean safety for children. Let him know about his space in your home. Involve him in making it his place. Begin new traditions together in your new home. Think about today and and not the past. You can make this an exciting new adventure for both of you!
Also think about setting up regular times to Skype or FaceTime with him during the week in order to keep consistent contact. You can watch movies together, play games, chat,do homework, or even just be in the same room through technology, so that you can maintain consistency in one another’s days.
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