Separation is difficult to go through. It involves a lot of emotional energy and financial resources. Everyone in your family is affected, especially your children. To help alleviate some of the difficulties of going through a divorce, here are a few tips to help you still be a good parent and co-parenting partner.
Settle Matters Legally
To truly avoid problems down the line, it’s best to have a co-family lawyer help you settle things. This will prevent any issues or arguments that will only make your child’s experience bad. There’s also the consideration of keeping the legal discussion away from your kids. It’s not that you should not inform them of the legal decisions; it’s to avoid making it more confusing for them.
Once you’ve sorted the legalities of things, it’s best to explain them to your children. Explain it in a way that’s easily digestible for them, and avoid using terms that might sound scary. It’s better to keep things concise and simple than to be technical about it. This goes the same for older kids and teenagers- they can understand the situation better, but the simpler the explanation is, the easier it is for them to cope.
Allow Time to Heal
Your children may not immediately react to the situation. They might not even show much of a reaction. However, it will leave a mark on them. Even if you think your children are ‘mature’ enough to understand, there’s still a need for them to process everything. The family life they know would be drastically changed, which will leave an effect- that’s why it’s crucial to give them the time to heal.
Talk with your children. Encourage them to be honest with their feelings and that you will respect what they will have to say. Talk with them and make them understand that what’s happening or has happened is not because of them. Children are prone to self-blaming, and talking to them early on allows them to heal sooner. Things won’t immediately be better, but it’s necessary to take steps towards it.
Let Your Children Know You’re There for Them
It is common for children from families going through this experience to think that their parents won’t make time for them. And it’s an understandable fear. After all, in most situations, it involves living away from each other and dividing your time with your children.
That’s why it’s absolutely crucial to put in the effort to make your children not feel alone. Make the time to be with them. Make it as often as you can (or as often as the agreements allow). Now more than ever, you need to show your children that you did not leave them. That you are still there for them no matter what. Always check on them and attend the events they ask you to; youth is something that finishes very quickly, and you don’t want to regret not seeing your children through their youth.
It’s a Co-Parenting Relationship
Co-parenting with your former spouse can be difficult. But remember that you changed relationships and that it’s not an emotional relationship anymore, but one geared towards your children. Think of it as a “co-parenting relationship.”
You might have deep-seated emotions regarding your former partner, but those matters are entirely yours. There’s no reason to share this with your children, and doing so might prove to be your disadvantage. Your child might harbor negative emotions to both of you, and that’s something neither of you wants. Respect and sincerity go a long way here, and that will reflect on your children as well.
Never Stop Communicating
Communication is vital for all parties involved, especially in this situation. You want to avoid any form of miscommunication that can make matters worse. And you always want your child to understand that the changes that happened don’t mean you will stop talking to them.
Communicate with everyone involved. Communicate with your former partner, coordinate with them when it comes to matters concerning your child. Communicate with your child, and always ask them how they’re feeling. Communicate with your lawyer to make sure you’re not obstructing anything. Especially the last bit- talking with your lawyer about the agreement is important to know you’re not in the wrong.
The change in environment is something that everyone will have to get used to. Especially after years of being together as one unit, it can be especially jarring. But taking things slow, allowing time to heal all of you, and making sure to cooperate is the key to being a good parent to your kids and a good co-parenting partner to your former spouse.