In the heat of the moment eg with the late back from contact situation – it is very tempting just to get angry – the other person is wrong – they broke the agreement to bring the child back at 5 so you are entitled to be angry. But does it make a difference being angry? It usually just shuts the conversation down altogether and gets in the way of conversations about anything else. Of course, do not have these conversations in front of the children. Make an arrangement to speak on the phone or email or something. Remember also that the person who has broken the agreement will be on the defensive – which can take many forms. I know myself well enough to know that if I start to get angry it is more often than not because I have done something wrong so I start to construct a story to excuse myself (eg late for train, don’t have time to buy ticket, know that I may have to pay a fine, start to get angry about all the times the trains are late but they never offer any money back and pick on people like me who are perfectly willing to pay the fare just did not quite have time to get it organised – woe betide the inspector who comes across me at this point). Language is key. So try to start the conversation with an acknowledgement of something positive: thanks, I’ve had a lovely peaceful afternoon, thanks for taking the children to do X – they’ve been wanting to do that for a while. The children love spending time with you, I know. Have you told them that the behaviour bothers you? Calmly, so that they can hear you? EG I’ve noticed that this is the third time in a row you have brought the children back later than we agreed. It may be that 10-15 minutes from their perspective seems trivial and they are just assuming because you have not raised it before that you are okay with it. They may not even have noticed that they are late. Have you asked them for an explanation or why something has happened from their perspective? Is there something about getting back here on Sunday for 5pm that is a problem? eg train times, activity times Have you told them why it upsets you? It may sound silly but it makes me worry that you won’t bring them back or that something has happened to you all. Or – I like to take them to church on Sunday and to get there we need to leave the house by 5.30 at the latest. Or – I need to make sure they have done their reading practice before they have tea and go to bed. What would make a difference? Extend the contact time? If the exact return time is not that much of an issue, it may be more about communicating as to arrival times by text? Make an effort to get them back at the agreed time if this is really important. Do the reading practice during contact? If the boot is on the other foot ie you are the parent returning the children late: A simple apology may go a long way. S/he may be thinking you don’t care. If you start off straight away acknowledging you are in the wrong – sorry I know I should have got them back by 5 but the traffic was terrible / trains were late etc. I really appreciate spending time with them and want to make this work. The return time thing is often a problem for me because …. And then I get stressed because I am worried about what you will be thinking. I always try to get back at the agreed time but things do sometimes go wrong. If they do, what would help you? You have then acknowledged that you have broken the agreement, made plain that you did not do it for an ulterior motive and opened the door for a constructive conversation.