Scheduled visitation is a must to ensure a child has a healthy, loving relationship with both parents after a divorce. When one parent is unreliable, it can really take a toll on a child’s emotional and mental health. Accordingly, Parents offers the following tips so you can help your child cope with your ex-spouse’s actions.

When an important event is missed, encourage your child to express himself openly. Don’t dismiss his emotions or attempt to make excuses for your ex in an attempt to alleviate hurt feelings. Acknowledge that your child is upset and let him vent his emotions to you without judgment. You can also encourage your child to make his feelings known to his ex in a way that feels the most comfortable. For some kids, this can involve sending an email or text. 

You should also take steps to frame the situation for what it is. A child often feels like she is to blame when a parent fails to show up for visits. Your child might express sadness that she is not loved, and it’s up to you to rectify that claim immediately. Surrounding your child with loving and encouraging family members shows how much she is loved. Explain that all people make mistakes and the blame ultimately lies with your ex and has absolutely nothing to do with your child’s lovability.

Lastly, take a practical approach to missed visits. If your former partner constantly skips out, schedule another fun event the day of visitation just in case. This shows your child that he is loved and that people really do care about him. It can also get his mind off the missed visit, even if it’s just for a few hours.