But we all know that this scenario rarely happens in real life, don't we? When you bring lack of money and distance into the picture. Not forgetting that to a child even a few streets away seems a long way.
When the divorce settlement comes along it can speak of joint child custody but sometimes the reality is that one parent - usually the mother - becomes the main custodial parent, whilst the other - usually the father - has access for the occasional/regular overnight or weekend. It's only human nature when, due to this situation, feelings of jealousy or even resentment build up. It's possibly happened to you when your ex has failed to do what's asked of him or he feels you've reneged on a commitment and unfortunately at times like that it's sometimes the child who suffers. Don't feel guilty or down whenever they are with your ex.
The last thing you want is for your child to feel like a burden or a pawn. So why don't you try this: whenever you feel frustrated with your ex's behaviour try putting yourself in their shoes for a moment.Whoever's fault the split was is irrelevant - it's now your child who matters. What would be better or worse for you? Does that help you understand your ex a little better?
Whichever parent has more custody of the child will sometimes feel these changes just as much as the non-resident parent. Did you know that around 80% of non-residential parents are men? And also that a third of those men lose all contact with their child within a year of the separation taking place? There are absolutely no excuses for that sort of behaviour but some men do find it difficult to deal with the little or no contact they now find themseves experiencing with their child. So to deal with that pain they sometimes remove themselves from the situation. Not the best way to deal with it I grant you but it does happen. And the worst part of it is that the child then thinks their dad doesn't love them.
So to the non-resident parent: don't avoid the tears when they come. Talk through it with your child. Reassure them. Tell them you'll always be there for them and you miss them and love them too. Tell them it'll all get easier. And most importantly relax and be yourself. That familiarity will be of comfort to them.
Remember, your child, even when step-parents come along, will only ever have one father and one mother.