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Ask Dr. Shirley Schaye Your Own Question
Dr. Shirley Schaye
Dr. Shirley Schaye, Doctor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1673
Experience:  PhD-Psych; Certif. Psychoanalyst NPAP& NYFS; Memb.APsaA;IPA; Pub.Author; Teach/Supervise Therapy
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Hello, I have a 23 month old little boy and going through a

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Hello, I have a 23 month old little boy and going through a very tough child custody battle with my ex-husband. Our son was conceived AFTER we divorced in 2009 in what was supposed to be the basis of our reconciliation, but his father abandoned me as soon as he learned I was pregnant.

A month short of giving birth to my son his father came back asking for a chance. I accepted, but he continued to be an inconsistent presence in my and our son's life, not wanting to move in with me, not coming to visit at all during our son's first month of life, and then for a couple of days every other week, or 2 or 3 weeks at time throughout our son's 1st year of life.

Finally I presented my ex-husband with a structured schedule to provide the consistency and stability that was lacking in our son's life from his dad, but without allowing for overnights yet because our son is too young, and my ex-husband suffers from anxiety disorders that cause phobias and panic attacks and even refuses to take our son to the doctor when needed because of anxiety.

My ex-husband then filed for joint legal and physical custody threatening me to take sole custody, because he did not want to follow any kind of schedule and wanted to take our son with him to Baltimore, even though he is unable to meet our son's most basic needs, lives in Baltimore 1 hr away, I live in Rockville, does not believe in our son's medical treatments such as wearing glasses for his hypermetropia, hearing aids for his moderate hearing loss, antibiotics for his ear infections, just very radical health care beliefs and lack of family values, not to mention his psychological and financial instability...

He has been saying that child psychologists state a child this small should not be away from one or the other parent for more than 3-4 days, but in the case our son's dad chose to stay away for days and weeks at a time and is now asking for shared legal and physical custody. Our son has never known any other home but his with me as the permanent every day sole care taker parent, and he plays very well with his dad when he sees him, but beyond that his dad has never lived with us or being an every day dad or has ever taken any responsibility for our son's health or any other by choice because of anxieties... Etc.

So in my case, what is truly the best visit schedule for our son's dad to have with our boy, for our boy's best interest and not disrupt his world with prolonged weekends and overnights at such a young age away from the only life and stable parent he has known since he was born?

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

I am sorry to hear about what is going on. You are absolutely correct. No child should be separated from their mother for the first three years of their life.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Your son is too young to go to daddy's overnight. If one wants a child under three to not have separation-individuation problems they CANNOT , as I have already said, BE SEPARATED from mommy for the first three years of their life. This, of course, has complications because for the normal course of development, a child needs contact with the father,as well. Without giving you a whole early childhood development course, I'll cut to the chase and say this. Since he is a boy, a relationship with the dad is important for other reasons --- identification with the dad -- male figure. ( Of course, it's important for girls, too, but for different reasons.) So you and his dad need to sit down and talk about how your son can spend blocks of time with dad but not overnight. They could if they have an amicable relationship and have an extra room then have the dad stay at the mom's or the mom stay at the dad's. Or, if this is not a possibility, then for your son to start by spending a few hours with the dad. Let the mom drop in for a short visit and then let him play and be with his dad and then overnight being back with mom if mom is not staying at dad's.
Yeah, I know --- complicated, isn't it? It's, also, not a simple matter because he also needs to spend time with dad. It's not just a matter of you saying to your ex --- ok, you'll see him when he's three years old.
I think you understand what I am getting at. It needs a lot of talking between you and the child's father. If you feel you can't work it out between yourselves, the two of you should see a child analyst who will have extensive training in early childhood ego development. Any therapist who sees children will not have the extensive training to properly understand the complications of these separation issues.
I do hope given what I provided that you will be able to work things out. If your relationship is such that you can't I'll be glad to help you find someone with the proper training. I will need their city, state and zip code.
I wish you all well.

-- Here is a link for a book by Louise Kaplan which is written more for the lay public.

Here is a link should you want to purchase the book "On Human Symbiosis and the Vicissitudes of Individuation" by Margaret S. Mahler, MD and Manuel Furer, MD.*listing*buyused


Thank you so much for your answer, it does help and puts into perspective much clearer the path to follow. Yes please, I need a good referral for a child analyst with proper training in Rockville MD, 20855.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Why a child analyst if she's an adult?


...I'm confused, my boy is 23 months old, I need to see someone asap this week, our final trial is next week and some pretty outrageous information has surfaced for which I have to speak to a specialist in this matter to provide me with accurate information regarding the consequences of putting my little boy through what my ex-husband is asking, given the brief background I provided you with... I'd like to call them right away... Who do you recommend in Rockville, MD, 20855?

Sorry, I see that there were technological errors. I was answering someone else's question and your response appeared in their chat. So sorry. Let me go look for a child analyst.
I'll be right back.
Again, I am so sorry for the technological errors --- of course, you were confused.
Here is a contact:
Douglas A. Chavis F.I.P.A.
Child Analyst? Yes
Address: XXXXXSuite 201
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
United States
Tel: 1(NNN) NNN-NNNN/td>
Again, I am so sorry for the technological errors --- of course, you were confused.
Here is a contact:
Douglas A. Chavis F.I.P.A.
Child Analyst? Yes
Address: XXXXXSuite 201
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
United States
Tel: 1(NNN) NNN-NNNN/td>

Suggested Routes from Rockville, MD 20855
25 mins / 15.86 miles
MD-355 S
26 mins / 13.35 miles
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I can't see the phone number fully on your response. It's 301-6_ _ _201?
Sorry again --- don't know what is happening technologically.
Here it is again.
I hope you get it this time.
Tel: 1(NNN) NNN-NNNN/strong>
Let's hope you get it this time. If not, do let me know.
I'll pause here and await your response to see if there is anything else you would like to add so that we may continue with our chat. If you have other questions, don't hesitate to ask. If I have answered your questions, please click on ACCEPT and leave feedback. Bonuses are always appreciated. You can always ask more questions after you have clicked on Accept. Just put Dr. Shirley Schaye before your response and I will be the one to respond.
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