The dissolution of a marriage is hard on the entire family. While adults have developed coping mechanisms to deal with the stress of separation and divorce, children often have difficulties adjusting to the changes. Use these five strategies to ease the emotional burden on children and make co-parenting more effective.
Open the Lines of Communication
In any successful relationship, communication is key. It becomes even more important, however, when children are negotiating two households. Talk to your parenting partner and hammer out rules on important issues like cohabitation, grooming, academic performance, or anything else you’ll need to work together on for your child. It may be helpful to schedule regular meetings to ensure everyone stays up-to-date.
Make it a priority to share information with your parenting partner in a timely and respectful manner. For situations in which verbal communication is difficult, a family notebook is a good way to provide a communication outlet without risking unnecessary friction. Parents can use the space to express concerns, notify the other parent of appointments or changes, or document visitations and court-ordered activities.
Give Your Child a Safe Space
For youngsters, a divorce or separation can feel like losing a parent. Even if they are able to see them frequently, the changes can be incredibly disruptive. Give your child a safe space to go when their feelings get overwhelming. This could be their bedroom, a favorite outdoor spot, or the home of a trusted friend. Encourage them to participate in healing or calming activities while they’re in the space. Journaling, meditating, or listening to relaxing music can help little ones calm down and make them more receptive to your ideas.
Some children may need counseling in order to fully adjust to their new reality.
In contentious divorces, some parties may be tempted to use their children as spies to gather information on their former partner’s activities. Resist that temptation. Encouraging children to invade their parent’s space is rude, disrespectful, and counterproductive to healthy parenting efforts. Respect your former partner’s autonomy and leave your child out of any conflicts between the two of you.
Make a Plan
Even the most committed co-parents run into conflicts. Make problems less likely with a written plan. Sit down with a neutral third party, like a counselor or divorce attorney, and write out the details of shared custody, expenses, and other issues. This simple step can save a lot of future heartaches.
Focus on the Children
Despite what may have gone wrong in your relationship, the focus of both partners must be on the well-being of the children. Make a mutual decision to always act in the best interest of your offspring. This will help avoid many potential co-parenting problems. However, it is important to understand that divorce is always accompanied by high emotions. Consider seeking counseling for yourself to help alleviate some of your own emotional baggage and free up some mental space so you can be more available for your children.
Your children don’t have to suffer from a divorce. With these tips, you can create a new family dynamic that works for everyone. If you need legal guidance of a divorce attorney during your marital dissolution in Salt Lake City, the Law Office of David Pedrazas is here to help!