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You are here : home > Raising Children > Related Articles for Raising Children > Absent Parent v/s Active Parent

Absent Parent v/s Active Parent

Absent parent returns, active parent in turmoil Read this article by Gary which discuss issues and strategies to manage the return of and absent parent who demands access.

After parental separation, a consistent relationship between child and both parents is best. A parent entering and leaving a child's life can be disruptive for the child and for the life of the other parent. Some folks may feel that upon being absent for some period of time, the absent parent should not be allowed back into the child's life. In some situations, the active parent has remarried and the new partner has formed a meaningful and significant attachment to the child. The re-introduction of the absent parent therefore threatens to not only cause emotional turmoil to the child, but may be a perceived threat to the relationship between child and new partner. Needless-to-say, there can be a tangle of intense feelings on all sides.

Generally speaking, the social science literature supports the notion that children fare better in the long run with secure attachments to both parents. This is true even in the face of many parental difficulties, but assuming that neither parent is outright abusive. In the case of an absent parent wanting to re-enter a child's life, it may be difficult to determine what is best for the child. Hence the decision may rest upon the clinical judgment of an assessor. The challenge in assessing these cases is separating parental issues of anger, jealousy and the like, from the needs and interests of the child. At times it is parental issues that require more management than the child's renewed relationship with the absent parent.

In the event it appears that the relationship between child and absent parent will be re-established, certain precautions and structures can be put in place to allay concerns, facilitate the process and provide safeguards. Pre-meeting conditions can include:

  1. Abstinence from alcohol or drugs where a parent is known to abuse such substances.

  2. Drug testing for a parent known to abuse drugs.

  3. Counseling for the above, if at issue.

  4. Anger management if anger issues are identified.

  5. Attendance at a parenting course.

Then, with regard to a process for facilitating the relationship between absent parent and child:
  1. Consider a counseling process where the counselor meets the absent parent alone. This meeting or series of meetings is to establish motive and also to provide opportunity for education as to the needs of the child in question.

  2. Concurrently there should be a meeting or series of meetings with the same counselor and the active parent and partner to discuss and prepare them, followed by a meeting with the child to discuss concerns and issues. The purpose of counseling is not to curtail the process, but to continue to discuss and develop strategies to mange change in view of concerns.

  3. Finally, the child meets with the absent parent under the auspices of the counselor. Several future meetings can occur with the counselor or under supervision through a designated supervision center if considered necessary.

  4. Then assuming all goes well, visits can progress to unsupervised.
Hence the issue may not be withholding the relationship, but facilitating it through a safe and structured process. If the absent parent abides by the process, benefits to the child can significantly outweigh the loss of this parent-child relationship. If the absent parent proves incapable of meeting the requirements and abiding by the safeguards, then there are supports in place to help the child and family adjust. If the absent parent refuses to follow the process or gets into trouble along the way, the process can be modified or even ended. These situations are balancing acts with no easy solution. The challenge is to manage the process as delicately as possible. The above process may help.

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Connect1.9 years ago
i can agree with these studies and i will just add that i have seen several situations whereas children are in situations where if they stayed with the custodian parent, they are faced with some of the same or sometimes worst conditions that they would if they went to the parent that was absent. in my opinion i feel we should probably look at and focus more in the area of helping to develop the parenting skills to rear a well-rounded child.
it is the duty of parents that give time and take care of child because their rearing can make a healthy develop child
chris.9 years ago
i am a mother and i can not for the life of me understand women who interfere with the father, child relationship, (unless the child is at risk). when i split up from my sons father, my son was the most important person in the split. i felt i had no right to use my power to put a wedge between them even though the government gave me every right to play the game and thats what it is a game of control for vindictive mothers.
i understood that my son needed his father as much as his father needed his son.
what right did i have to destroy the love they both had and for what reasons would i want to do that to them both. i believe that women who do use their control lack confidence as a parent and worry that their children can share the same love for the person she has become to hate.
i never felt threatened by the love my son has for his father, i was confident with my own parenting skills and was comfortable with that knowledge.
my ex and i have not always seen eye to eye but they were never going to be an excuse for me to use my power against there relationship.
i am glad that i never turned out to be a bitter person and can accept that i and my ex have both moved on.
the important thing is that children should always feel loved by both parents and one parent should never try to damage the childrens relationship with either parent
Mom.9 years ago
when i separated from the father i was pregnant with our second child. as a part of our agreement it was understood that i would be moving to another state within 6 month's of the birth. the father did not take much interest with baby but was there for the majority of the scheduled visits with out oldest son. after being gone over a year he is trying to take custody of the children because i want him to develop a relationship with the baby before he takes him for extended visits across state lines. the documents i have received are accusing me of being a bad mom. i am worried but have been assured that he cannot take the children. i have been reviewing articles like this and feel as though what i am asking for is right in line for developing a healthy relationship. i wish that it was understood that this is not a rush process and that time will be needed to guide a healthy, strong relationship with the absent parent.
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