You just ended a year-long custody battle in which you were awarded the Standard Possession Order (SPO). You now have to make the adjustment from seeing your kids daily to seeing them on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Fridays of each month. Does that make you the “weekend dad?” ABSOLUTELY NOT, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they are wrong.
When I talk to clients who feel like they either don’t want to agree to or don’t like the SPO because they are “more than a weekend dad,” I tell them they are right. They are more than a weekend dad, and a visitation schedule will not change that. The impacts you will make on your kids’ lives will still be profound and necessary.
If you read my bio, you know that I did not grow up in a nuclear or traditional household. My parents separated when I was a toddler, and my father had an SPO. I saw him on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Fridays of each month (or something similar) during some holidays and a portion of the summer. And guess what, that meant nothing to me. I never thought of my dad as a weekend parent. While I might not have seen him as much as I’d like, I talked to him often and would probably consider myself a “Daddy’s Girl” to the fullest extent.
It’s about quality, not quantity. A piece of paper should not determine the type of parent you are. You get to decide the kind of parent you want to be. There are so many ways to expand on your visitation time in the technology age. Getting in touch with a video chat or a simple phone call will go a long way to easing your stress over the limited time that you have with your kids. Take advantage of all of the ways you can still be right there for all the significant events in your kids’ day-to-day lives. By being available during the times that aren’t court-ordered, you show your kids and their mother the length you would go for your children.
One part of the custody process that may be the most difficult is successful co-parenting. It takes two parties to get this right, so don’t be stressed if you are unable. However, the more successfully you can co-parent, the more likely you will be able to have your kids during times outside of the court order. We take time for granted, but as a father, you know how precious the time you have with your kids can be. Any time you are given will go a long way to help you and your kids adjust to having a parent who doesn’t live with them.