How To Make Handovers A More Pleasant Experience For You & Your Child

I often hear about separated parents arranging to meet at petrol stations or train stations for handovers, which sounds very bleak and perfunctory for children.

From a child’s perspective, experiencing their parents’ separation is such an emotional journey in itself, so we don’t want to create further trauma during handovers. And things are already strained at best if neither can meet at each other’s homes.

There are many other more child-friendly handover settings that can make it easier for them and detract from the parental tensions. Your child’s favourite sweet or ice cream shop could be a much better place to meet. Or a play area or park they like could help make them more relaxed. Try to choose a handover place they associate with happy, positive thoughts and feelings. As parents you can also focus on the activity at hand which provides a good distraction for you both.

Meeting at someone’s house that you both trust is a good idea. Perhaps a friend of the family or a relative, like a grandparent, could be a helpful friendly face for handovers? Someone impartial who is not fuelling any fires between you as separated parents.

If meeting up in a child-centred public place or neutral space, your are both less likely to start raising any contentious or pressing issues that might lead to an argument in front of them. These should be discussed together in a more adult setting.

Try to smile and greet one another in a civil courteous manner. Remember that your children are observing your reaction to the other parent and will sense an atmosphere! Your child is likely to be experiencing a lot of mixed emotions: feeling sad as they leave one of you; happy to see the other; worrying about adjusting and overall confusion as to why they are having to go through this.  It’s good to prep them with plenty of reassurance before they leave for handovers. Understand that it is an emotional upheaval for them to adjust and adapt to being in different homes. It means getting used to your regimen and parenting style and it can feel like a kind of emotional ‘jet lag’ as they need time to get into your parental rhythm.

Making the emotional journey between you as pleasant as possible for your child will smooth out the transitional wrinkles any ‘jet lags’ for your child.

Handovers should be all about children and their welfare so please do everything you can to make them feel safe, secure, relaxed and confident as they move between you.