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Patience, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 291
Experience:  MA Clinical Psychology; BS Health Sciences
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Hi, I am a divorced father of two whom has a 5yr old boy [Jack]

Customer Question

Hi, I am a divorced father of two whom has a 5yr old boy [Jack] and a 7 yr old girl [Jules]. I have full custody of my children and I have an issue with their mother wanting seperate parenting time with each child one day a week. Jules, the older of the two is adjusting to the seperating better than my 5 yr old. Jules doesn't mind as much when she visits mom on her own, but Jack insists that his sister be there with him. Jack has regressed recently and has had more 'accidents' outside of the bathroom more often. I feel that seperating the two kids is detrimental to Jacks confidence and security and contributes to his already apparent sense of abandonment. Should I stop the one on one split parenting time that their mother wants so badly? Your thoughts please... MW
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Patience replied 4 years ago.
Hello and thanks for your question!

You sound like a very loving and aware parent, and I salute you on that. I agree with what you are saying about your son's confidence and feeling of security. It makes sense that at his developmental stage he would want to have the familiarity of his sister with him when he is in unfamiliar territory. So please stick to your guns with having them visit their mother together, at least on Jack's visiting day.

It is likely that your ex-wife is having a lot of turmoil in this situation. that's understandable, right? Whatever she has done or failed to do, she is still a mother. She wants to feel the trust and intimacy that you obviously have with the children. unfortunately, it may take time to repair whatever rupture has occurred. She, however, may not quite understand that. As they say, "the heart wants what it wants right now." That's why reasoning may not be the best approach to all this. It is an emotional type situation.

Also, your ex-wife may not be as sensitive to the children's subtle needs. Many adults expect that children will behave like miniature adults, and as I am sure you know, this is not likely to be what they will do.

Since you are the full custodial parent, this is technically your call, but you don't have to get heavy-handed with it. You can soften the blow by tell your ex-wife that when Jack is older you can revisit them getting together as a twosome, but for now it is just best for her to see the children together.

In addition, by being able to address the other underlying issues of the situation, you may all have better outcomes.Do you have an idea of what makes it so important for her to have the kids one at a time? Is she feeling overwhelmed? Is she actually saying she needs more visitation time? Does she have some type of parenting issue that needs to be resolved?

So the short answer, is yes, by all means do what it takes to support Jack's emotional need. The children are, of course, the first priority in all of this. It might be helpful to discuss your family situation at length, though, so once you rate the response, feel free to reply back to me for further discussion.

Please be sure to rate my response using the star system so that I can be credited for my time. After that, I will I will be happy continue our discussion if you need any additional information or insight. Come back soon and remember to ask for Patience P! In the meantime, great good fortune to you and your family.
Patience, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 291
Experience: MA Clinical Psychology; BS Health Sciences
Patience and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for supporting my gut feeling on this. I needed an objective point of view on the issue. I am concerned about the ways in which Jack's discomfort and lack of confidence manifest. There have been a few (more than the occasional) #2 'accidents' recently and some bed wetting on several occasions per week for the last 2 weeks. All this to say, I am worried about Jacks mental state and if he is subconsciously regressing because he is anxious and insecure? I know this forum won't give me the answers I need and I'll need to go into an office somewhere to get to the root of the issues and create a plan to fix them. Thanks for the ear and positive reenforcement. Just needed to be heared and understood so I don't think I'm crazy. -MW
Expert:  Patience replied 4 years ago.
You are most welcome!

The accidents and regression are a fairly common way that very young children express anxiety/insecurity. However, sometimes these can point to a more serious issue.

I would suggest that you check in with Jack and find out if something is going on when he visits his Mom that is more than just the freak out about being away from home. Don't necessarily grill him and make him wary or nervous, but just ask how it is and find out what he does not like. Make sure that Mom doesn't have some creepy friend/babysitter/bf, for example, who might be causing him distress.

Also, check in to see if there is something happening to upset him at school or daycare or other situations that might also be a possible source of problems.

If there are still concerns, you can start with taking Jack to the pediatrician for an eval and advising. Don't hesitate to see a family therapist if things seem really askew, but I am hoping for you all that only minor adjustments are needed and that things will be better resolved for your family soon.

Best regards, Patience P.

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