By: Adria Mulrooney
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Parenting After Divorce: How to Really Succeed At It
The ink has dried and both parties have been given their due in the divorce process. One has the vehicle, while the other has the home and the fine china was equally divided. The process was a lot easier than expected, but then reality kicks in and you are left with more questions; the most important question being how to be the best parent you can for your children, while co-parenting?
Parenting choices after the divorce will greatly affect your children
This is the part of the divorce that no one could prepare you for and each scenario is different, just as each child will respond to the divorce differently. It would help if both parents are civilized and agree to leave all animosity at the door, while working for the best interest of parenting the kids. You cannot control how your ex-spouse will behave but you can control the way you behave, which helps the outcome tremendously.
Avoid arguing over the little things
Refrain from making a big deal over what clothes, toys and electronics the children take or leave when visiting the other parent. This adds stress to the situation and on the children, as it takes away from the enjoyment of the time spent with the other parent.
Share the details of visitation with the kids
Create a calendar to make it clear when visitation occurs with each parent. Make any changes to the schedule clear as soon as they are rearranged to avoid catching the children off-guard. As the parent, do your part to stick to your visitation and try not to infringe upon the other parent’s visitation days if not necessary. Divorce creates a dramatic change and consistency in the new schedule helps children to adjust over time.
Discuss the visitation arrangements with the kids
Speak with your children about the visitation schedule and let them know why this schedule was chosen. Show them that it really is their best interest you have in mind, and encourage them to share their thoughts with you. Remember to not place the burden of having them to choose which parent to stay with and when, because this places unjust pressure on a child. This pressure makes children feel that their parents are making them "choose." Consequently, children will be left feeling afraid to hurt the other parent's feelings. Remember, you are the parent and they are children. They still need their parents to make quality decisions for them.
Don’t make your child the middle man
This situation happens more often than most parents realize. When one parent becomes upset or tired of dealing with the other, he or she begins to use the children as "messengers." Instead of telling your ex what the children need or about important dates and things going on, the children are tasked to deliver the message. Placing this responsibility on your children can lead to chaos and confusion. It also displays your lack of ability to co-parent or respond as an adult should in this type of situation.
Divorce is especially hard on the children involved and it is critical that parents keep this in mind. Though it may be difficult for you to move forward with the changes brought on by divorce, it is important to make things as normal as possible for your children. Co-parenting can be a smooth transition for your children if you handle it the right way. It is easiest when both parents discuss and agree that the most important thing is the well-being and happiness of their children.