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Summertime Between Separated Parents

June 20, 2017

This summer countless children are going to go back and forth between separated parents. Each will offer a different experience for their child. Jointly, they also create an experience for the child.

Composed in 1934, Gershwin’s “Summertime” is sung as a lullaby. There is a haunting quality to the melody as well as a longing for the child to grow up well, now at least being safe and secure with both parents by the infant’s side.

Given the child’s experience of the parents jointly, will that child “spread their wings and take to the sky?”

Let this song be a reminder this summer of the goal of parenting. We seek to have our kids rise up singing. Let your child’s experience of the parents jointly create that outcome.

“Summertime”

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, Don’t you cry

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ by

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, Don’t you cry

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ by

To help your child wake up singing, consider these 6 tips:

  1. Each parent brings a different experience to the child. Allow that child the experience assuming not out rightly abusive or neglectful. Care can be provided by family, extended kin, friends or through summer camps. Each parent decides on the experience they will provide. The child learns from each experience.
  2. For extended vacations, facilitate some electronic connection. While some may perceive this as being for the child, very often it is to allay the parent’s longing for the child well away. Be kind and respectful of a parent’s need for contact, not just the child’s.
  3. Recognize that in some families, a parent’s own parents or other kin may live a great distance away. Without a reasonable period of time, summer visits can be awkward and too short for the child to make a significant connection. It is important for the parent to connect with their parents and feel supported as it is important for the child to make connections to grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.
  4. Rarely is there the perfect summer plan. Not uncommon there may be little time between away trips. Children may have just returned from one side of the country to be taken to the other side of the country. Of course they may be cranky, tired and jet lagged. However, they will adjust. This is their adventure. They can either remember the adventure or the parental dispute over its organization. A memory of the adventure will serve them better in the long run over the dispute organizing it.
  5. Exploration and activities help children develop and mature. Along with those opportunities may come accidents. An accident can occur on either parent’s watch. If this should occur, concentrate on the well being of the child over assigning blame. In the event of an injury, notify the other parent as soon as possible. Delay creates mistrust and suspicion. If informed of an injury, thank the other parent for the information and for managing as best they did under whatever the circumstances may be.
  6. Summertime for some parents can be stressful because of ongoing work obligations. This doesn’t mean that a parent cannot still enjoy exclusive time with a child. In intact families parents really don’t dote over every minute of a child’s day thinking each has to be the best minute. There is nothing wrong with time that isn’t structured with special activities. That time allows the child the opportunity to dream, play, explore, imagine and find solitude while developing skills for greater independence.

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ by

Have a great summer.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue. I am available in person and by Skype.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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