Divorce isn't easy on anyone, and you've likely debated whether or not to even get divorced because you have children. Whatever it is that brought you to this point, we're here to help you at O'Keefe Family Law. Divorce is a hard decision and the effects are long lasting - on both you and your children. Here are five tips to assist you in helping your children cope with the changes your divorce will bring.
1. Encourage communication.
Pre- and post-divorce is the time to really open up with your children and encourage them to open up to you. You can offer support by legitimizing their feelings. To do this, tell them how they are feeling is normal and offer ways to help them cope with the changes. You can also help them identify exactly what they're feeling - even if it's hard for you to hear. Be sure to recognize signs of stress and seek professional help if necessary. Honest communication will help them know they can come to you when they are struggling.
2. Don't fight in front of your kids.
Whether it's an angry phone call or simply legal talk, make sure it's not around your children. Don't name-call or blame your ex around them; your children still love your ex-partner and you blaming him or her isn't fair.
3. Keep each parent involved.
It's important to keep your child's other parent involved. Just as you shouldn't name-call your ex around your children, don't argue or name-call your ex when you're around each other. Interact as civilly with your ex as possible - your children are still learning how to form healthy relationships and they look to you for guidance. Be willing to alter the visitation schedule when necessary and keep your child's needs in mind when determining schedules. They may not be okay with alternating weekends, or maybe they want more time with one parent. Listen to your child and don't try to compete with your ex for your child's time.
4. Try to maintain consistency in routines.
Most likely, your children will be splitting time between two different homes. This is hard on anyone, but especially on children who need stability. Attempt to minimize disruptions to their routines by setting similar expectations at each location. This could pertain to bedtimes, rules, and homework. Consistency is especially important for younger children.
5. Take care of yourself.
You can't be expected to care for your children well if you're not taking care of yourself. Keep yourself physically, emotionally, and financially healthy as best as you can. Seek help from friends, family, professionals, or clergy; don't seek support from your children, even if they offer.
Be patient with yourself, your ex, and your children throughout this entire process - it will take time to figure out what works best for your family. Throughout all of it, make sure your children know they're loved. Often children will blame themselves after their parents divorce and it's essential they know they're loved and the divorce isn't their fault.
With these five tips, we hope you can more easily navigate the aftermath of your divorce or marriage dissolution. Bobbie O'Keefe is an expert and family law and joint custody. Reach out today if you need more information about child custody arrangements.