Why is my child different when they come back from spending their time with the other parent?

One of the most typical comments I hear from children is how much they always miss one of their parents when they are separated. They are in a situation where they are always missing ONE of you.

So when they come back from having a good time with one parent, it’s a particularly confusing time for them. Naturally they’re happy to see you but also dealing with missing the other parent. They’re also aware of how tumultuous it can be between the two of you so they don’t want to upset either of you.

Your children will try to hide their mixed and confused emotions from you.

This takes a lot of emotional energy and they will hate feeling this way so they may become tired, upset and moody.

Remember they don’t want to worry you or spoil their time with you. You may observe them becoming manic, over-excited and not sleeping well. These are signals associated with them hiding more complex and difficult feelings. You may begin to notice they are quiet and subdued on the day/evening that they return to you. A few days later they may seem angry, confused, not wanting to go to school or having lots of fights or altercations with their siblings or peers at school. This is because they are trying to work out their feelings and still recovering from being emotionally raw and ‘sunburnt’ (see ‘What is the Emotional Impact of Separation on your Child’).