Custody exchanges can be highly emotional. Parents may be sad to see their child leave or upset about seeing an ex. Exchanges can be especially daunting when parents are hostile toward each other.
During such high-conflict exchanges, parties can be worried about their safety and the wellbeing of their child. As such, it is vital to consider the following tips for making these exchanges more peaceful.
- Make the exchange in a public, safe place. Having to go to the other parent’s house can trigger arguments and make parents uncomfortable. To avoid this, parents can meet at a neutral and safe public place. This approach can make parents less likely to lash out and increase the likelihood that someone is nearby to help if a situation escalates. You could also schedule exchanges around school or daycare pickups and drop-offs. Doing this allows parents to avoid seeing each other altogether. Whatever you decide, be sure your arrangement complies with the order that is/may be in place.
- Don’t antagonize the other parent (or let the other parent antagonize you). For some parents, face-to-face encounters present a tempting opportunity to provoke the other person. However, understand that this is not just unproductive; it can also be harmful to your child to see parents acting that way.
- Save the arguments for another time. Keep exchanges brief and polite. It is very unlikely that getting into a fight during a custody exchange will end well. In fact, it could make your child sad and possibly fearful of going with you or the other parent. Instead, parents should refrain from discussing anything potentially problematic during an exchange. Exchanges are not the time to negotiate anything nor to work things out.
- Be prepared and be on time. You may not be able to control the other parent, but you can control your actions. To keep the peace, be on time to exchanges. If you are delayed, contact the other parent immediately. You should also be sure you have everything you and your child need to make a transition, such as schoolwork or a child’s comfort items. Preparation conveys respect and allows you to avoid upsetting surprises.
These tips can alleviate tension between the parents and assist them in being better co-parents.