From the Therapist's Desk

BUILDING A PLAN FOR RESTRUCTURING YOUR FAMILY AFTER PARENT-CHILD ESTRANGEMENT

Anticipate that you both will need to develop a plan that starts with short, brief amounts of time and gradually builds. Trust must be established between Mom and Dad. Trust must be established between the child and the returning parent.

it is best to develop a plan that will unfold in phases. It will be necessary to evaluate if the pace is too fast (or too slow) for the child to manage and make adjustments.

When the returning parent spends time with the child, all of the focus should be on the child and getting to know who they are rather than trying to catch them up on your life since you've been gone. The primary parent can help with this process by sharing information about the child with the returning parent and supporting the relationship.

Plan activities that engage the child both mentally and physically.

Do things side-by-side to develop a stronger connection.

Don't use electronics to baby-sit your kids.

Don't use electronics to avoid contact when you are together.

Make your shared time interactive!

Learn about each other's interests.

Don't try to "buy" your way back into your child's life. Spend time not money. Bring healthy snacks not candy.

Do introduce your child to new experiences or teach them a new skill.

Do encourage them to share their artwork, their school work, sporting events, hobbies -- everything that can help you learn who this child is!