Divorce can be stressful for everybody involved, it’s a time of flux that can be rough for long periods of time. This is especially true for children and while there are no hard and fast rules for how to deal with a separation or divorce, there are a few tips and tricks to make the process a little easier on kids.
Hassle-Free Child Visitations after Divorce
- It doesn’t matter if you’ve been divorced for a long time or if you’re newly divorced, the best course of action is to start with the visitation plan the two of you agreed on. If you’re in the midst of getting a divorce and expect problems like this with custody, then it’s imperative to make a plan that is flexible, but agreeable to both of you.
- As soon as your child gives you a date for important events such as graduation, recitals, school plays, and others, the best course of action is to log it down in the calendar. Give your ex a chance to get involved as well so everybody is well aware of any changes to make your plan as flexible as possible.
- Get your kids involved in creating the schedule. Sometimes, kids also need to make a few sacrifices for social events to attend family gatherings. It’s important for kids to understand how to prioritize events and why some events should be considered more important that n others. They’ll encounter a lot of situations like this in the future, so it’s important to start teaching them this early on in the divorce.
- Children need to be able to communicate their preferences, needs, and wants to their parents. Being open and honest can help parents be more flexible and prepared during the visitation schedule. It can be tempting to do the talking yourself, but learning how to communicate their preference is a great life skill for kids to learn!
- Work together with your ex and children to create flexible events that everybody can be happy with. If there are certain events that a child wants to do with their other parent or a friend, it’s okay to let them go. There is always an opportunity to create a make up date to spend time with your kids without sacrificing their interests.
- Don’t compare and contrast the quantity of time and quality of time spent with your children compared to your ex.
Surviving the Holiday Season
- It’s difficult to go back and call a truce after going through the whole divorce process, but while it may be difficult, being civil with your ex makes the holiday season easier than it would be by turning to dirty divorce tricks.
- Let your children know they can express their thoughts and feelings to you without feeling guilty. Give them a safe environment to be open and honest about their lives; it can go a long way in offering them comfort, validation, and relief from sadness and guilt kids can feel about holidays after divorce.
- Let the children get involved in holiday making decisions so they feel less stressed. Maybe they can bring friends over during family activities or they can decide which parent they’d like to spend time with.
- A lot of families create their own holiday traditions and it’s easy to feel like a lot of those old traditions have been thrown out the window after a divorce, but it can be a great opportunity to create new traditions! Take the chance to tell your kids that nothing will replace the happy memories from before, but you can always look forward to new traditions you’ve created together.
Practical Parenting Tips After Divorce
- A change in family structure is a huge change for children so the last thing they want is for other parts of their life to be changed too. Aim to maintain consistency as much as you can by doing the best you can to keep maintaining the same activities to provide them with a sense of normalcy.
- Your emotional support with your child is crucial. Recognize that your child is going through emotional stages like you and try to spend more time with your child by doing more activities together. If you notice your child is having issues verbalizing his/her feelings, consider asking a therapist or school counselor for help.
- Whenever possible, maintain connections with your ex by not alienating them from your children’s lives or by badmouthing their family. If your child sees hostility, it sends the message that people may not fully recover from divorce.
- Encourage your child to form social bonds with others by scheduling play dates and encouraging them to spend time with friends. Making the extra effort to understand their needs can go a long way for children!
Divorce Advice for Cooperative Parenting
- Create a list of non-negotiable things that you absolutely want to teach your child and encourage your ex to do the same. Also consider coming up with another list with your ex for all the traits you would like to develop in your child so that both of you can recognize that you’re working towards the same goals.
- Make sure that household rules are clear and you are both on the same page so that you can present a unified front. Having consistent household rules helps children better adapt to the new situation.
- Parents (whether or not they are divorced) won’t always see eye to eye about how to raise children, but it’s important to be mature enough talk things out if there’s a conflict. Instead of arguing in front of the kids, sit down privately and talk things out. If you are in a situation where your ex can’t control his/her temper, choose to keep your cool and continue the conversation at a different time rather than fight.
- Teaching your children about consequences is an essential part of parenting. If your child breaks a rule at your ex’s house, agree to exercise the agreed upon punishment at your home. Letting children off the hook when they break a household rule set by the other parent could cause confusion.
Connecting for Kids (PDF)
This page was last updated by Brian Joslyn