Little Johnny will say just about anything…
Tears at the custody/visitation exchange are normal. Usually, 5 minutes after the exchange all is back to normal. The tears do not mean that they genuinely fear the other parent, or worse, or that they only want to be with just one parent. They are a child.
As a parent of that child your primary responsibility should be to comfort the child! You should not make the situation worse by being pouty, confrontational or making statements that inflame the situation. You should not toy with the child’s emotion on whether they can stay just a little while longer.
Instead you should fake happiness for the child that they get to spend time with the other parent. For example, “Look Little Johnny, mommy is here. You and mommy are going to have so much fun and I’ll see you again real soon!” Do this while helping the child get in the car and make sure he or she has their stuff. That’s it.
That’s how exchanges should go. If you, as a parent, are not helping, then you are the problem. Try to ease the anxiety for your child. Put your own selfishness aside and stop the hate of the other parent for about 3 minutes.
Getting your child to tell the other parent what “they” want, when we all know it’s really what you want is damaging as well. It’s not an accomplishment to get a child to say something. It’s easy. What apparently is not easy is being a decent human being. Try it. You may just have a happier child and a happier life.
Matthew Thompson is a Child Custody attorney and advises his clients to do the right thing and what is best for the child EVERY time.