There have been several articles written about, your tot being a little angel at the playground, at nursery school, and at his grandparents’ house, but he’s a howling, whirling dervish at home. This can be applied to traditional behavioral issues after visits to dad's house. Why do we have to deal with these behaviors while dad proclaims he has an angel? Answer: He’s completely secure in your affection, so he knows he can let it all hang out in your presence. There are a lot of emotions behind co parenting transitions for children and you may be the punching bag when your child returns.
When Holden was about 16 months old we faced some pretty sever night issues after he returned home from his dad's house. Holden would wake up screaming, kicking, hitting, and crying, completely unable to be consoled. I held him tight, rocked him, tried to tell him things would be alright, but at his age he had no words to explain what he was going through. This is where flashbacks start for me. I was around 7 years old when my parents divorced. I remember being at 7 so lost and confused. I had no idea what was going on. I remember the same, waking up crawling into my dad's bed bawling, fighting, screaming for several hours. Though I had so much heartache, I have fought with my inner child to find what that feeling was. Sadness? Anger? I am not entirely sure. I can say I know I just needed my dad (my primary caregiver) in the moment. So this is what I have provided Holden those nights. This lead to behaviors at daycare and an inability to gain composure and develop cognitively for the entire week after his return.
Shortly after these extreme behaviors started I removed Holden's overnights from his dad. Just after that we started a custody battle which my attorney was able to prolong a bit for Holden to get a little older. Still seeing his dad every other weekend, but no overnights. This seemed to help greatly. It was about a year before we moved into one overnight for a month and then ended our custody agreement at every other weekend with overnights. Thankfully we only dealt with a few issues in the night a year later after the custody situation had ended. About a month after we came to a custody agreement. Holden's dad took a job out of state and only see's Holden one weekend a month with overnights. We still deal with behaviors after dad's house during the day, some weekends are worse than others, but that is for another blog.
Home is where your child feel safe. You are where your child feels safe. The loss or attenuation of important relationships may cause depression or anxiety, particularly in the first two years, when children lack the cognitive and communication skills that enable them to cope with loss. Offer your child some grace. Support your child when he or she comes home, but maintain structure.