Children · Legal · Relationships · Visitation

You are not a visitor

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve come to realize how deeply embedded bias is against what they call “non-custodial” parents in family courts. But the problem isn’t only in the courts. It just originates there.

Prior to becoming a divorced dad, I wouldn’t have thought twice about what terms people use when talking about seeing their children. Now I see that much of the terminology simultaneously robs one parent of esteem and authority, and imbues a sense of entitlement and superiority in the other. This can be used as a bludgeoning instrument of abuse against the “non-custodial” parent.

I could choose a number of these terms (including “possession” and “custody”), but right now I’m talking about “visitation.” As if all the blood, sweat, and tears you poured into your children relegates you to being just a visitor, because the other parent and you could not stay together.

Your kids deserve better than that.

You are not a visitor. You are Dad (or Mom) to your children. They don’t visit you. They have two homes. To the extent that it is up to you (or both of you, if you’re effectively co-parenting), your children should feel as at home at one house as they do at the other.

Stop using that term. It neither accurately informs what is true nor edifies the people it is supposed to describe.


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