The situation described above illustrates one of the fatal flaws in parenting apart. When time together is divided by chunks of time apart, it makes it harder to develop rapport between you and your child. The nature of parenting changes when it’s constantly being interrupted for custody transitions.
Though there is no way to avoid this issue outright, there are a few things we suggest that can smooth things around the edges:
A) In the same way that marriage partners will make the rule "never go to bed angry," parents and kids should try to adhere to the rule: always end a visitation or your parenting time together on good terms. This doesn't mean that parents run away from any and all quarrels, but it should mean that no matter what quarrels arise, they stop arguing and put them aside at the end. Agree to sideline the issue and revisit it again later. No matter how upset you are, each visit should end with affection. There's plenty of time to argue later.
B) Avoid bringing up contentious issues towards the end of the visit. Most things can wait.
C) Smooth over this problem by continuing daily contact through phone calls or other means when the child is at the other parent's house.
Maintaining consistency is difficult
When people talk about parental inconsistency after divorce, the conversation usually focuses around parents who each decide to do things their own way, thus offering no consistency in terms of parenting. But this covers up a deeper structural issue: not all of this inconsistency is intentional. It can become an issue even among parents who are otherwise cooperating with one another, not because of malice or callous disregard, but because it becomes harder to know what the other parent is doing (or has done) when parenting apart.
Think hard, and I’m sure you'll remember plenty of times when the kids asked the other parent something, got an unfavorable answer, and then came to you asking the same question. There were probably a number of times you gave a contradictory answer, unaware of what the other parent had told them. And this was while living under the same roof. This problem will only grow after you separate, because it becomes even harder to stay on the same page when you can't merely holler downstairs and confer with the other parent.
Each parent needs to recognize these difficulties, and show patience if the other person accidentally steps on their toes in trumping a decision they made. It’s bound to happen quite often, usually unintentionally. You can help curb this somewhat by trying to communicate back and forth and call when you're uncertain, but this won't address the problem completely.