Figuring out how to take care of children after you separate is perhaps one of the most stressful aspects of divorce. However, when decisions about your children’s future get handed over to the legal system, without a doubt children suffer. In order to stay in control of how life changes for your children, avoid using a cookie cutter approach when planning how children will spend time with each parent.
Do your best to work cooperatively by staying in charge of the process and basing decisions around your CHILDREN’S needs. More importantly, bypass court based models which usually offer short-term solutions that don’t address the long-term realities of family life.
To get started on developing arrangements, give thought to what life was like for your kids BEFORE the divorce. Ask yourself, how will you maintain your children’s active relationship with both parents? How will you provide them with flexible structure?
For example, if Dad took Billy to baseball practice every Tuesday and Thursday then he should continue doing that. If Mom picks up the kids every afternoon because Dad works till 6 o’clock, do your best to maintain those routines and connections for your kids.
Take a look at the big picture
It may also help to put things into perspective… Ask yourself how will the choices I’m making today effect my children’s lives one year from now, five years from now?
Bottom line: Be willing to think outside the box. Don’t limit your options to court based solutions ,
Help kids feel connected
Along with arranging how time will be spent, help your children feel connected to BOTH homes. Don’t talk about one home as their “real” home and the other household as a place to visit. If you can’t provide your children with their own room then create a special space where they can keep their things and find them when they’re with you.
Change how you talk
It’s also important to avoid using legalese. Ditch words like visit, visitation, custody, possession, residential parent, non-residential parent etc. Instead talk about time with Mom, time with Dad, Mom’s house, Dad’s house. When discussing arrangements use phrases like parenting schedules or parenting time.
The key to successfully parenting children post divorce is developing a relationship with your Ex that places CHILDREN as the TOP priority. That means having good communication skills and the ability to be flexible with one another,
**For more practical tips and success strategies, check out PARENTING APART, the book. Providing separated and divorced parents the tools they need to raise HAPPY and SECURE kids. As a subscriber, feel free to preview a complimentary sample chapter of PARENTING APART or take a look the table of contents to see what it has to offer.