Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of navigating a divorce involving minor children is to remember to center and support them through the process. Divorce can be just as hard (or harder) on young children as it is on the adults involved.
No matter how contentious your divorce settlement was, once you finish negotiating the parenting plan, you have a fresh chance to support your child through this sometimes painfully difficult adjustment. Here are three helpful ways you can center your child post-divorce.
Supply both homes with the basics
Watching your parents separate, divorce and then move into different houses can be destabilizing. One way you can help your child through this transition is to make sure each house has the basic necessities of clothing, toiletries, medicine and some age-appropriate toys or forms of entertainment.
When a child has to pack a bag to go back and forth between parents, it can lead them to feel like they donʻt actually “live” in either house. Reducing the amount of stuff that needs to travel between houses can help the kids feel more comfortable.
Resist the urge to over-entertain them
If you didnʻt get much time with the kids due to the custody arrangement, you might be tempted to pull out all the stops when they do come over.
While this is understandable, constantly whisking them off for extravagant outings could make it harder for them to feel comfortable enough to talk to you about the tough stuff. Allowing for ample downtime together in a quieter setting can provide the right environment for them to confide in you about what is going on beneath the surface.
Don’t bad-mouth your ex
Never speak ill about your ex in front of your child. Perhaps more than ever, the kids need stability, and if you are degrading their other parent in front of them, they may begin to question their safety when at the other parentʻs home. You could also be accused of purposefully damaging their relationship with your co-parent.
If you donʻt succeed in these skills all the time, thatʻs okay. We are all human beings doing the best we can. Navigating the challenges of a post-divorce custody agreement is a constant work-in-progress, and the most important thing for you to do is try.