Raising a child in a non-traditional household can be difficult on the parent that the child may spend less time with. In most situations this is an arrangement that consist of a child residing with one custodial parent for a majority of the time, and staying with the other parent only during scheduled times. The most common schedule being bi-monthly, (in this context 2 times a month) and for longer periods of times such as summer visitation that could consist of weeks to months. These arrangements are seen in most custody agreements in the United States when the parents remain involved with the child’s upbringing, but no longer live in the same household.
For the parent that spends less time with the child, feelings of doubt may frequent their mind and worries that their child may not become as close to them or love them as much. It is very important to adhere to certain guidelines and consistencies in order for the child to grow to learn the routine and establish a sense of security with the non-custodial parent. The end result would be a strong and loving relationship between parent and child.
It is important to know that one of the first and basic needs a child seeks to obtain is a strong sense and safety and security. A parent must assure the child that they are safe while they are with them. This can be established by being present with the child consistently during their time. The opposite could be leaving the child alone for long periods of time or leaving and returning at inconsistent intervals. This also brings out the importance of a predictable routine. By conducting daily interactions the same way or in a similar way, the child will begin to learn the routine and if the routine is disrupted the child has become adapted and can return to the baseline with less emotional distress.
Frustration tolerance is also important for both the child and the parent. Using consistent forms of positive reinforcement and a predictable discipline policy will result in the child responding more positively and the parent will also learn more controled forms of redirection that result in a more productive outcome. An example would be that when the child receives a consequence for throwing a ball at the television, it is important the child receive the same consequence if the action is repeated. The same is for praise. If a child is given a reward for a positive action, this should be followed through with again, at realistic intervals, when the action is repeated.
One final approach, that may be more difficult to achieve, but with help with the child learning the routine is co-parenting. Each parent must strive to be consistent with the routes taken be achieve positive goals in the child’s development. This can be difficult if one or both parents are not interested in this approach. However if co-parenting occurs with respectable efforts given by both parties, the child can know what to predict within each home and this reinforces securities. One example would be to construct a sticker chart with simple goals for the child. These could consist of taking a bath, or picking up toys. The child receives a star when the goal is met. This chart can be passed between household to assist in structuring a consistent routine. A positive outcome can be achieved even if one parent remains consistent, in that the child will have a strong secure bond when the stimulus they encounter within the household is predictable.