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access? Consider the long-termÖ
parents with severely restricted access hold tremendous rage or anger at
agencies, institutions, courts or the custodial parent. However, their
limited access may be more a consequence of their responses to problems,
than the problems directly. Provocation by others cannot be used to excuse
their own behaviour if inappropriate or worse, criminal.
and foremost, parents in such situations must learn to manage their
behaviour so that it cannot be used against them. No matter how provoked a
parent may feel, they must never act in such a way as to undermine their
own self. Parents must consider the consequences of their responses PRIOR
to responding and with a view to acting in their own long-term interest
rather than the immediacy of the situation.
parents in such situations must learn that relationships are a lifelong
endeavour. So even though difficult today, parents must be helped to think
long-term. They must act now to prepare and build for a relationship even
if in their childís later life like adolescence or adulthood. Donít
miss the chance for something later, by creating new problems today.
maximize the opportunity for a lifelong relationship parents with
restricted access can do the following:
1. Use whatever access is available. Children cannot live by excuses.
Being there whenever possible lets children know you value them. This is a
2. Never bad mouth the other parent or caregiver. Putting down someone
else will never elevate you. Concentrate on the children directly and your
activities in the moment. Do not place them in a situation of revealing
matters of family life that you think you can use in your case. This will
only heighten their mistrust of you and add to a poor relationship now and
3. Leave your anger outside the visit. Children want the opportunity
to see you, not your anger. Also, your anger may scare them, which will
only cause them to want to stay away.
4. Remember all birthdays, holidays and special occasions with a card
or gift that is appropriate to their age and interests.
5. If allowed, maintain regular contact in-between visits by telephone
or email or letters. Again, remember to leave your feelings aside and
concentrate on enjoying listening to your child. Sometimes such contact is
only a matter of seconds. Do not expect lengthy conversations. Itís the
contact that matters, not the length.
6. Never hit your child, scream or yell, but do learn and use only
appropriate behaviour management techniques. Remember, you are also a role
model so what you do in all aspects of your life matters most. Your
children will learn by watching you or being told about you, so always act
7. Maintain a life journal with pictures and notes that you can use to
share memories together of good times. If you do not have access to your
children, still make a journal of your life showing what you were up to on
their birthdays, holidays or special occasions. Keep it positive and
include a birthday card that you would have sent. Then when you see your
child, be it now or when they are an adult, you can demonstrate they were
always in your thoughts and you can catch up. In such situations these
actions can help your then adult child feel better about themselves and
help you forge an adult-adult relationship. This can make up for some of
the lost time and you both can feel good about it.
consider counseling. You may need help or support to work on the
suggestions contained in this article or to fully understand all the needs
of children. Remember, your children will benefit when you put your issues
aside and concentrate on working towards a lifelong relationship that is
aimed at meeting their needs first, be it now or for the future. Itís
only too late when you give up or act inappropriately.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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