Life may get easier for you in some ways after your divorce, but it often makes things more difficult for your kids. From communicating with parents to living in two homes and the process of adjusting to a new normal, there’s no doubt that divorce can be hard on kids, even if it is what’s best for your family.
Fortunately, you have more control over how your kids feel after your divorce than you think. You just have to go above and beyond with these tips to make life for them as easy as possible.
Follow Your Child Custody Arrangement
Chances are, your divorce includes a child custody arrangement. Although studies have shown a positive correlation between good self-esteem in children and joint custody arrangements, in most cases, one parent is granted primary custody. No matter what your arrangement, as soon as the courts have ruled or you and your spouse have come to an agreement, do whatever you can to stick with it.
Keeping to a schedule is a great way to help your children settle into a new normal. That means allowing your child to continue participating is sports, continuing family traditions, like Friday movie night, and it means following your custody arrangement so your kids can get used to it. When you follow it carefully, it means your kids know what to expect on a daily basis, which provides them with peace of mind.
Be Cordial and Kind
Chances are, you and your ex don’t really get along. After all, there has to be at least one good reason why the two of you got divorced. No matter how contentious the divorce or the reason why you decided to separate, it’s important to remain as cordial and kind as possible.
You don’t want your ex to badmouth you to the kids, so you shouldn’t badmouth them either. Although it may make you feel better in the moment, it can cause your child to think they have to take sides, which is never a good thing. Instead, at least be cordial when you interact, and if you can manage it, say nice things about your ex to your kids when they aren’t around. If you can’t, then don’t say anything at all.
Don’t Make Your Kids the Go-Between
If your child sees your ex regularly, it can be tempting to make them the messenger. It may be convenient for you, but it definitely isn’t convenient for them.
Asking them to tell your ex important things, like doctor’s appointments and school fees, puts too much responsibility on their shoulders. You and your ex should be the leaders of your family, even if you’re separated, as it enables your children to feel safe and secure. If you have something important that you want your ex to know, you should tell them yourself.
Open the Lines of Communication
Talking to your children about your divorce isn’t easy, but it’s important. They don’t need to know the details of exactly what happened or why you’re separating, but it is important to talk more generally about the reasons for your divorce in an age-appropriate way.
Focus on the fact that the divorce will make both you and your ex happier, and be open and ready to answer any questions your children may have. They will want to know things like if they behave, will you change your mind, and whether your divorce was their fault. It’s important to reassure them that your divorce had nothing to do with them. Continue to address difficult feelings with your children as they come up, even if it means seeing a therapist together.
Make Them Comfortable
One of the hardest things for children who experience a divorce is the fact that they will now have two homes. Making them feel comfortable in each home takes a little extra work, but it can be done.
A few tips for making both homes more comfortable include:
- Let your child have some say in the decoration of their room
- Split items between households so both locations feel familiar
- Make sure they have all the toiletries and other items they need in both homes
- Come up with a fun routine when they arrive at your home
Even if life is better for you after a divorce, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for your kids. Help them make the transition and feel more comfortable with their new living situation by following the tips on this list.
*This is a collaborative post