You know that your divorce is not ideal for your children, even though you feel like it was the right decision for you and your ex. You worry about how the children will grow up and develop in this new lifestyle. What can you do to make them healthy, resilient and well-adjusted?
It takes commitment on your end. But that does not mean it is impossible. Here are a few ways you can actively work to help your children moving forward:
1. Respect each other’s rules and authority
You and your ex still have to be a team. You’re not married, but you are parents. That’s something you do together. Always agree to respect each other’s authority in front of the kids. Agree on rules when you create a parenting plan and custody agreement, and then follow those rules. The kids still need that cohesive, clear portrayal of who is in charge.
2. Keep your children’s routines
As much as possible, try not to let the divorce cut into the routines your children already know and depend on. Some are simple: Getting up for school, eating meals, going to bed. Others happen outside of the home, like getting rides to sporting events and practices. Try to make a plan to maintain these activities so that the children feel like their lives are still the same after divorce.
3. Keep any disagreements away from the kids
Never fight or argue in front of them. If you have a disagreement — and you will — do it on your own time. Present a civil, united front to the kids. Do not use them as pawns or drag them into your own issues. Try to shield them from conflict. One of the best things about divorce, for children, is when they get to leave high-conflict marriages. Make sure they really left it.
4. Talk to your children
Support your kids. Answer their questions. Be honest. Check up on them and see how they are doing. Never assume that divorce is just an “adult issue” and that you can leave them out of it. You know that it has an impact on their lives. They may not know how to bring it up or how to express themselves. Make sure they know that you both love them, that you’re there for them and that they had nothing to do with the divorce itself.
It is important to keep these tips in mind when planning a divorce, creating a parenting plan and moving forward after your marriage ends. Always put the kids first. It is even wise to look into the legal options you have to set up the best possible future for them.