Divorce and Children
Change is difficult for most adults, so imagine how much harder it is for children who are not yet fully developed. Change is especially hard for little ones who are so dependent on routine. But with proper support, children can adjust to the changes that come with divorce, including living in two homes.
Divorce with children usually brings with it a transition to two homes instead of one. This can be an opportunity to teach children flexibility and positive thinking. Instead of division, multiplication! Focus on a new home and neighborhood to explore, a new room to decorate, a whole new adventure to embark on. Parents can present it as an opportunity for growth.
Children can adjust much more easily to divorce when they are confident of the love of both of their parents. Let’s talk about some of the important things to focus on when going through a divorce with children:
- Involve the children in furnishing and decorating their new room. It is important that the child feel included in the process, and it is just as important to make sure that he has his own, special place in the new home. If a room is not an option, a drawer in a desk, a special bean bag, or some other space that is solely “theirs” is important in helping kids to adjust and feel secure. Encourage your child to make the space comfortable and to reflect his personality.
- Keep dual calendars in both homes. A strong visual helps children to know what to expect. Highlight which weeks and days the child is with each parent, along with any special events or activities.
- Drop off your child. Experts generally agree that it is better for parents to drop off children when it is time to switch. Picking up runs the risk of interrupting a sweet moment. Upon arrival, try to keep things low-key to ease your child’s anxiety about the transition. Reading a book, taking a warm bath with his favorite music, or even something more active like playing outside are all good options. Follow your kiddo’s lead.
- Discipline is still important in BOTH homes. While it doesn’t have to be the same in both, children should know that they can’t ask Dad for something Mom already said no to.
- Encourage your child’s love and bond with the other parent. While this may be easier said than done, try to put aside any negative feelings like jealousy or bitterness. A strong, positive bond with both parents is vital to your child’s overall development. Parenting should never be a competition.
- Stick to the agreed schedule, even when the child is sick. Keeping her because she’s sick undermines the parenting skills of the other and feeds a “Disneyland Dad/Mom” idea. No competing!
- Children should be allowed to call the other parent but not forced to. Do your best not to control your child or their feelings as they navigate this journey.
- Spend time after the initial move-in to walk around the house and neighborhood together. Explore the new territory, meet neighbors, and establish boundaries and safe-zones while spending some quality time together. This is not a time to lecture, but to love.
In time, the new arrangement will become comfortable for everyone. When both parents can team together with two homes and a visiting schedule, the children feel reassured and secure. They know that they may not see their parents together anymore, but know that they are still partner parents who love them. If you are looking for a divorce attorney who understands children and their needs, contact Paul Bowen today. His experience in family law can help you in this difficult time.