A divorce can be a stressful time for anyone, and having children involved makes it especially stressful. In between worrying about court, asset division and arguments over custody, many parents end up overwhelmed. Although parenting can be especially difficult during a divorce, a parent can learn to overcome the special challenges a divorce brings. In the end, a divorce may often lead to even better parenting and a healthier parent-child relationship.
Focus on Your Relationship
During and after a divorce, it’s easy to keep your thoughts on the divorce itself. This could include financial matters, especially if the divorce means you must sell your home or move. When thinking about the kids, it’s easy to narrow your thoughts down to custody agreements and parenting plans. It is most important to keep in mind that your child’s relationship with you hasn’t changed even after the divorce. It is very healthy for your child to feel that you are still the parent, even if you end up being the non-custodial parent in the arrangement.
It is equally important to focus on your relationship with the child, and not dwell on your former spouse’s relationship. This means keeping your time focused on your own activities and plans with your child. Ask them questions that relate to them and you, and not to your former spouse. It is easy to sometimes put children in the middle of everything, using them as a go-between for information on your spouse. This is something you should avoid.
Staying focused on your relationship creates healthy separation between the divorce and the parent-child relationship. Your main goal is to ensure the divorce has as small an impact on that relationship as possible.
Keep Things Consistent
In the chaos of divorce and the life changes it entails, consistency is often a casualty. Perfect consistency may not be possible. All family members, including your children, will have to adapt to some changes. This is perfectly normal. The negative impact of those changes is often determined by how you handle them as a parent.
Your child may be adapting to living in two separate households and managing limited visitation times and schedules. You can help most by ensuring these changes are consistent and predictable. If you have parenting time scheduled, be sure to keep that time. Follow the parenting plan and the caretaking duties you agreed to. This helps children know what to expect from each parent.
This consistency creates a sense of safety in the child’s world. It can bring a healthy sense of order to the chaos of divorce.
Be Willing to Work with the Other Parent
The healthiest divorces are usually the ones in which both spouses demonstrate they are willing to work with each other for the child’s benefit. It is important that the child still feels like he or she has both parents and that those parents, even if they have decided not to be together, are still willing to act like parents.
This can be one of the most difficult things to do in any divorce. Divorces are fraught with emotions, many of them negative. Your relationship with your spouse has likely been unhealthy or negative for quite some time. It can be difficult to agree with anything your spouse does, and parenting disagreements may even be a contributing factor in the divorce.
A divorce in which both parents can agree on important elements like custody and visitation is an easier divorce to resolve. It is healthier for the child and for both parents. You will never be able to ignore the fact that your child has another parent and that that parent has a right to be involved in the child’s life. In most circumstances, it is healthiest for the child to have a good and consistent relationship with both parents. This necessitates that the parents can come to some kind of agreement.
Life also changes, and the child’s life will change as they get older. This may mean changes in circumstances and needs. A custody arrangement made when a child was five years old may no longer be the best situation when the child becomes a teenager. No matter how difficult the divorce was, you can do best by your child if you work with the other parent to adapt to life’s changes.
Practice Self Care
Self-care is an important part of parenting that is often overlooked. You can’t be expected to be the best parent if you are overwhelmed by stress and emotions. While every parent wishes they were a super-parent, able to handle any difficulty and make any sacrifice for their child every hour of every day, that is simply not reasonable or possible. Attempting to do too much or stretch yourself too thin comes with its own consequences.You can do more for your child by making sure you take some time for yourself. Some parents may see this as selfish, but it is often the best thing you can do. This could mean something small, like just taking a break or asking your child to entertain themselves for an afternoon. You could hand your child off to a friend or another family member so you can have a day to relax and recharge.
You will do your child the most good by always having the energy and composure to give them your best self while you are with them. This is better than trying to give them every moment of your time and attention.
Practice Good Communication
Communication is a vital part of any healthy parent-child relationship. It is especially challenging and important during and after a divorce. Children respond to divorce differently, but it is common for children to shut down or withdraw. They often keep their feelings inside. It is common for children to blame themselves, at least in part, for the divorce.
The difficulties of a divorce may be an opportunity for you to focus on healthy communication with your children. It is important to let them feel heard and that their feelings and opinions matter. Being open and listening is one of the best things you can do. It is also important to stay engaged and asking questions about how your child is doing and what they are doing. Especially for older children, encourage them to give the details and not just shrug off your questions.
While a divorce can be a very difficult time for parents and children, it is also an opportunity to reinforce the importance and value of relationships. Divorce does not mean an end to being a parent, regardless of the outcome of custody battles. It is even an opportunity for you to grow as a parent and sharpen your parenting skills at a time when it matters most. A strong parenting plan and solid divorce and custody agreement are strong foundations to making the divorce as painless as possible for your children. This is where a divorce lawyer in Monterey can help. Your attorney may be able to help you negotiate the best plan and ensure your rights are upheld during the divorce process.
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