Making the Most of Supervised Visitation

Kids want to have a healthy, loving relationship with both of their parents, but separation or divorce often takes a toll on these relationships. One of the ways that it does so is by changing the amount of time that each parent and their children spend together. In some of these cases, the time that a parent spends with their children is dramatically modified by way of now requiring third party supervision. Frequently enforced by court order, supervised visitation involves scheduled appointments for parent-child contact that will be monitored in a safe environment. Supervised visitation is often mandated in situations where a child's safety is at risk due to the behavior of their parent. While it may place certain restrictions on how a parent a child can spend their time together, supervised visitation does allow a parent to continue cultivating a relationship with their child. Giving a child an opportunity to have that relationship and make an assessment of each of their parents. 

If you're a parent who attends supervised visitation with your child or your child sees their other parent this way, here are some suggestions to help you and your child make the most of these visits.

Types of Supervised Visitation

Depending on the situation, different types of supervised visitation may be ordered. Supervised visitation can take place by way of physical meetings between parent and child, group visits where more than one parent-child meeting is taking place at one time, or monitored phone or video conversations. The type of visitation ordered in each situation will be chosen based on what is the best interests of the child. If you are granted supervised visitation by way of physical visits, these may take place in a specified facility that offers such services or in a location that you, your co-parent, and the court agree upon. Like any other topic related to child custody, the laws surrounding these issues vary from state to state. Each state offers various supervised visitation facilities and has certified professionals in this field working with families to monitor visits. Check out this list of resources for each state to get information about supervised visitation providers in your area. 

Preparing Yourself for Supervised Visitation

Getting ready to attend a supervised visitation appointment is both mental and physical. You may not agree or like to see your child on a set schedule and be supervised by someone you possibly don't know well. However, the best thing you can do for your child in this situation is to make the most of your time together. Dedicate yourself to attending each scheduled visit and always being on time. Get to know the rules of your visits and follow them. Some rules may by court order, and others may pertain specifically to the visitation center you are attending. Also, be prepared to talk to your child, and this means keeping the conversation age appropriate. Regardless of your feelings on the situation, do not badmouth your co-parent, your visitation supervisor, or even the visitation itself. If these will be your only moments of direct contact with your child for the foreseeable future, they shouldn't be anything less than a good experience for all involved.

Before each visitation, get yourself ready to focus on your child. Beyond just taking, you will likely have some time to play and enjoy each other's company. Supervised visitation should be an enjoyable experience for you and your child, and playing games and doing crafts are just some of the activities you may be able to do together. Think about your child's interests, and find one or more that you also enjoy and can use to bond over. Also, you might think of something that you and your child can look forward to doing together during each visit. If your child likes listening to stories, choose a book with chapters so that you can both enjoy reading a little more of the story on each visit. If your child likes art or putting things together, choose a craft or project that you can work on a little bit each time you're together.

Getting Children Ready for Supervised Visitation

As a parent whose child attends supervised visitation with their other parent, it is equally important for you to participate by way of getting your child ready to attend their visits. Talk about these visits beforehand, and get them marked on a calendar that your child has access to. This will help keep them aware of when the visits will happen and how often. More than just talking about when they'll happen, encourage your child to look forward to them. Even if you have certain negative feelings about your co-parent, support your child in their efforts to build a relationship with their other parent by speaking positively about their upcoming visitations. When your child leaves a supervised visitation session, be prepared to let your child give you as much information as they want to about it. Don't interview them about the visit; instead, allow them to say as much as they want. 

Maintaining a supervised visitation schedule is made easy when using the OurFamilyWizard website. Each time your child is set to attend supervised visitation with their other parent, mark it your shared family calendar so everyone can see when visitations are upcoming. You can even print a copy of the calendar to put on your child's bedroom wall or, if they are old enough, give them access to the calendar online via a limited access child account. Between visitations, co-parents can share photos and other news regarding their child as a way to keep everyone in the loop even when they can't always be there. Even more, limited access child accounts allow kids to send and receive messages with each of their parents in a private and secure forum. Parent-child communication on OFW® can also be monitored by a family law professional such as the child's GAL, visitation supervisor, or others you are working with. No matter the family situation, the OurFamilyWizard website offers families the right tools to stay connected at any distance. 

No matter the situation, parents should always discuss their questions or concerns with supervised visitation with a family law professional such as an attorney. These tips are simply suggestions for ways that parents and children can make the most of supervised visitations. In any case, the OurFamilyWizard website can help families better organize schedules, improve communication, and much more. Create an account today to check out these features and much more for yourself!