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What should you do when kids want their other parent?

When parents separate or divorce, it's not unusual for kids to want to be with whichever parent they're away from at any given time. Depending on their age, this can manifest itself in crying, temper tantrums or locking themselves in their room.

Whether children are acting out of anger at being denied something they want or they simply want to spend more time with their other parent, it's essential to remain calm and not take it personally -- even if you feel hurt or angry. Remaining composed in these situations can go a long way to helping your child adjust to the break-up.

It's essential to understand what kids are looking for when they want their other parent. Do they like his or her home better? Does your co-parent have less stringent rules? All kids try to push their parents' buttons at times to get what they want, but when their parents live apart and perhaps don't get along, they may have more reason to believe that their efforts will be effective. You don't have to give in, but you should at least show some empathy for what they're feeling.

If this is a recurring issue, try to talk with your co-parent. It's likely happening to him or her as well. If you're able to, work together to support your kids as they go through this difficult transition in their lives. Perhaps there are minor adjustments you can make to the current custody and visitation schedule that will help your kids.

Maybe your son misses watching Monday Night Football with his dad because you have him during the week. Perhaps your daughter wants her mom to attend a scouting activity on a weekend when she's supposed to be with her dad. If these scheduling adjustments are workable, it could mean a lot to kids if their parents can agree to make them.

It's essential, however, to document these schedule changes, perhaps using a shared parenting app, to avoid confusion or conflict. If you find that more involved scheduling, visitation or custody changes are necessary, it's best to talk with your Massachusetts family law attorney in order to seek these changes in your parenting plan.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "How to Respond When Your Child Wants Their Other Parent," accessed Aug. 08, 2017

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