For families, divorce is always something that couples approach with trepidation even when the desire to part ways is strong. Parents naturally worry about their children and lament the breakup of their family. Yet divorce is frequently inevitable and the only sound solution for a couple to embrace. As journals such as Scientific American have recently reported that, although divorce does have a negative impact on children; the studies also demonstrate that the effects are typically short lived and do not extend long term. By following some tried and true tips and engaging in best practices, divorcing parents can help their children cope with their new reality. Divorce is a change in the family dynamic, but when children understand that both of their parents will continue to love and be there for them, the new reality can be a promising one for all.
Divorce affects families and children, in particular, in different ways. As parents search through tips to help themselves and their children deal with divorce, they will need to take their own personalities and coping methods into account. For instance, some children are quite sensitive and may require more explaining and more attention. Other children may respond to major change with anger. Think about how your kids handle change and you may find it easier to find solutions that will help each child to cope specifically with their own emotions.
There’s no getting around the fact that there is often hostility and negative feelings between spouses that divorce. Try to keep in mind that the divorce is the remedy for a bad marriage. Work to make your relationship as divorced adults better than when you were married partners. More than anything, for the sake of the children, don’t settle for a hostile post-marriage relationship. No one suggests this is easy, but keep trying to improve your co-parenting relationship. If an argument occurs, don’t give up on reaching a truce. Not only will this help your children cope, it will provide them with an example—never give up striving for a positive relationship.
Although you and your former spouse are no longer married, you are both still parents and will have a lifetime of parenting ahead of you. Certainly while your children are minors, you will need to connect time and again to work out parenting time or to co-parent jointly. When it comes to your children, you still have a partnership. If you can’t embrace the concept of co-parenting, the partnership may not do well. If you work to make co-parenting a success, you’ll find that the outcome is more positive for you and the children.
Many divorced people may find themselves saying things to their children like “can you believe your mother” or “I don’t believe your father said that.” In both subtle and blatant ways, you can put your children in the middle by forcing them to listen to your complaint, rant, or negative opinion (even if it’s justified). Children may feel compelled to side this way or that instead of simply feeling like children loved and cared for by both parents. Try not to use your kids as sounding boards so they don’t have to feel the negative emotions that you feel too.
Going through a divorce isn’t a one-time deal. In fact, it’s more like a process. Moreover, divorce isn’t easy and neither is co-parenting. If you and your ex find yourselves struggling with sharing time or agreeing about your children, look for alternative solutions to your problems. For instance, embrace a tool like coparently that provides you with a convenient platform for managing your kids’ busy schedules. coparently helps you to maintain a business relationship and remain child-focused. Some people might need a mediator while others might seek out a counsellor to work through the trauma of their divorce so that they can feel emotionally balanced and positive about their new situation.
Situations will inevitably arise when one parent needs to ask the other for a favor. “Can I spend time with the kids this weekend instead of next?” Or, “Would you mind if I dropped the kids off an hour early?” It may not always be possible to compromise, but it helps if you can. It also helps to foster your co-parenting relationship. Again, it’s going to be difficult to accommodate someone that may make you angry or experience other negative emotions, but you may need a compromise too. Compromising is something you’ll need to keep in mind as time progresses.
Naturally parents want to know that their children were fine and safe when they spent time with their other parent; however, it may not be good idea to ask overly specific questions—questions of a prying nature. “What did you and Mom do yesterday?” is ok, but “how much did Mom make at work last week?” is not. Try to minimize personal questions that relate only to your ex. You don’t want your kids to feel like a go-between or messenger.
Sharing your children’s achievements and interests is a joyful part of parenting, and kids often want to share these things with both parents at the same time. For instance, how sad for a kid if both of their parents can’t be there to watch them hit a homerun at the same time. Whenever possible, try to both make the games, the award ceremonies, and the dance recitals. Even if you can’t sit together, try to be there at the same important moments together and behave civilly. It will help your children to understand that both parents can still witness all the special times in their young lives.
Remember that even married couples struggle to parent together. Naturally, co-parenting will have its difficulties. Keep in mind that co-parenting works, and you and your ex can be successful at it. Always remember that if you and your ex share nothing else in common, you still share some of the most important people in your lives. That alone makes working to make co-parenting a success well worth the effort. Also, remember that studies indicate that the kids are going to be just fine in the long-run. Just keep working to co-parent as best you can and you and your children will be perfectly alright.