Parenting Through Divorce Facts and Tips
A Good Parenting Plan
A parenting plan – one that spells out the terms and conditions of custody and visitation—makes clear the rights and responsibilities of both parents. A clear and detailed plan reduces confusion, which reduces arguments about what the plan says. Fewer arguments means less tension, and less tension between the parents is better for the children.
Children often benefit when the parents successfully co-parent. Kids whose divorced parents have a cooperative relationship feel secure (confident of the love of both parents, kids adjust more quickly and easily to divorce); benefit from consistency (similar rules, discipline, and rewards between households, so children know what to expect, and what’s expected of them); better understand problem solving (learn how to effectively and peacefully solve problems) and have a healthy example to follow (establishes a good life pattern children can carry into the future).
Love by the Entirety
Divorced parents must remember that their children love them both by entirety.
Parenting is Forever
Marriages end, but parenting is forever. Divorced spouses must remember they are no longer husband and wife, but they are still parents – mother and father.
For two divorced parents to successfully co-parent, peaceful, consistent, and purposeful communication is essential. The purpose of the communication is the well-being of the child. This begins by setting a business-like tone, approaching the conversation with the former spouse as a business partnership. The “business” here, however, is the children’s healthy adjustment and well-being.
Where to Start
Both parents need to assure the children that the divorce is not their fault and that both parents love them.
Children in the Middle
Children of divorce often feel trapped in the middle. They should never be used as messengers between the two former spouses. Nor should they be used as intelligence operatives.
Separate Feelings from Behavior
Successful co-parents focus on the child - and only the child. Any anger, resentment, or hurt takes a back seat to the children’s needs. Co-parenting is not about the adults’ feelings but rather about the child’s happiness, stability, and future.
Change in Standard of Living
Divorced parenting means dealing with a reduced standard of living. Most families experience a significant drop in income after a divorce. Money once applied to one household now supports two, and single mothers frequently earn less than single fathers. It is often impossible to stay in the same home, attend the same school, and have the same lifestyle that the family enjoyed before the divorce. This is a common and often unavoidable risk in divorced families because maintaining economic stability is clearly a protective factor for children.
Joint Legal Custody
When parents can cooperate, joint legal custody ensures that both of them maintain an active involvement in the important decisions of divorced parenthood.
Useful Online Tools
Resources & Tools
SEPARATE FEELINGS FROM BEHAVIOR – Successful co-parents focus on the child -- and only the child. Any anger, resentment, or hurt takes a back seat to the child's needs. Co-parenting is not about the adults’ feelings but rather about the child’s happiness, stability, and future.
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