By Danica Joan Dockery, M.Ed.

I found that summer visitation was challenging, to say the least. But, it did allow me concentrated time with my children to show them who I really was. It was difficult because I did work, so I had to find a compassionate caregiver who understood the toxic state that my children were in. My extended family and friends helped a great deal too.

Divide and Conquer. If the goal of your ex is to sabotage any positive visitation you might have, the key for me was to put them in an environment where their ill behaviors had less impact and to do my best to ignore the toxic behaviors that the children display. I divided my five sons up by sharing visitation time with my parents and my sister. That allowed the children to build relationships with family members who were unified in being unconditional love for them.

Make sure that you, your family, and your friends are light. Don’t try to “set the record straight.” Be loving and accepting of them. I know there are so many things you want to get off your chest, but realize that they are prepared to view your words as evil. So, there’s no benefit for you to spout off to your children about their other parent. Resisting that temptation can be made easier by practicing positive thoughts and conversations with everyone in your life. That means, don’t dwell on the evil people in your life. If you live and breathe that conversation while away from your children, then that’s what you will want to talk about around your children.

And finally, another way of diffusing hostile visitations is to take your children to a fun public place. Avoid the temptation to buy their love. Just take them to the beach, or to a skate park, or some sort of public event. Geocaching is a great activity to do in teams to make your visit into a treasure hunting challenge. Whatever you do, your goal is to have fun showing your children that you love having them around.

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