Reintroducing Child to Absent Parent

My son is 2 1/2 years old. He hadn't seen or spoke to his mother in 6 months. Although I have temporary custody she has been allowed to see him from Tuesday morning to Thursday night for the past three weeks.

Although he seems to like being with her he has become more aggressive and has regressed in some areas such as potty training and sleeping through the night. I am not sure what to do. Should I cut down the visits or what is the best way to handle this?

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Jan 02, 2011
Visitations with an Absent Mother
by: Laura Ramirez

You are right to be concerned about your child's regression after visitations with an absent mother. Of course, it is common for a child to regress in potting training behavior and other behaviors when a current event causes stress or triggers an unpleasant memory (such as feelings of abandonment by his mother). Since children do not have the ability to express their feelings clearly, instead, they act them out.

The trick is to help your child through this process. Understand that the regression is not his fault and patiently help him to regain his abilities. Let him know that you will always be here to help him. Try to keep his life with you as stable as possible.

Pay careful attention to your child's behavior before and after each visit to make sure that there are no tells that indicate that these visits are unhealthy. If you think they are, talk to your lawyer and get advice about whether to involve social services.

You didn't mention why the mother left the child, so it's hard to guess at the reason for his behavior change based on the information provided.

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