When parents divorce or separate, children can experience a great deal of change. Depending on their ages and the circumstances under which parents are splitting up, this change can be frightening and destabilizing.
As parents, you play the primary role in helping your children through this difficult transition. And this can involve prioritizing solutions that minimize disruption to your children’s lives, including those we mention below.
- Think about your child’s schedule. The more your child has on his or her plate in terms of school, extracurricular activities, and community commitments, the more upsetting it can be for them to make changes. Think about this when you discuss placement, and consider reasonable accommodations that allow a child to keep to their existing schedule as much as possible.
- Have a clear parenting plan in place. When it comes to custody and placement, having specific, well-defined guidelines in place can provide a great deal of stability for parents and children alike. With a solid parenting plan, everyone can be clear on the schedule, expectations, and boundaries that are in place. This can help a child feel protected from unpleasant surprises and more sure of where they fit in.
- Focus on your common ground. Ending a marriage doesn’t mean people’s views on parenting change. If you and the other parent agree on things like curfew, school expectations, and discipline, make sure to reinforce those shared values and boundaries. When a child has similar rules with both parents, it can be easier for them to feel a sense of stability.
- Start some new traditions. Divorce can mean losing traditions you once shared as a family. However, you can start new traditions to help achieve that same sense of routine. For instance, maybe you all used to sit down together for pancakes on Sunday mornings. After a divorce, you might change things up and take your child out for breakfast on Sundays or watch cartoons together in bed while eating cereal. Just because you can’t do the same things doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything.
Change is inevitable when parents divorce or separate. However, by prioritizing stability in these and other ways, you can help your children through this difficult adjustment.