Going through a divorce affects the whole family. It can be difficult emotionally, especially when children are involved. However, research shows that children can develop and grow positively after divorce when steps are taken to provide a healthy environment for them. While issues like child custody, visitation, and child support are rarely agreed upon, parents must keep their children’s best interest in mind throughout the divorce process.
Whether you and your spouse agreed on parenting styles before divorce, or not, your family is changing and it is important to work out a co-parenting routine that works best for your family. Here are five key elements to ensure that the best interest of your family is protected during and after divorce.
1. Maintain consistency
Going through a divorce is a big transition for the entire family. One of the most important things to do for your children is to remain as consistent as possible. A consistent daily routine will provide your children with stability. This means establishing bed and wake times, chores, and rules regarding homework, T.V., and curfew. Establishing a consistent routine will make your children feel loved and protected, and they will thrive knowing what is expected of them.
2. Remain an active part of your child’s life
Divorce can be emotionally and financially draining. Even though it may take up a lot of your time and energy, do not allow it to take away from the quality time you spend with your children. Make it a priority to spend time with your children and talk to them about how they are adjusting to their new family situation. This can also be done by keeping up with your children’s medical and educational responsibilities. Continuing to spend quality time with your children will help diminish the negative effects of divorce, and will help you if issues such as child custody become disputed in the courtroom.
3. Do not fight in front of the children
When you share parenting it is essential to model good behavior. Disputes are often inevitable during a divorce, but they should be resolved out of the children’s sight. A heated argument in front of the children can leave a lasting negative impression on them. They may feel conflicted, or as if they have to take a side. Behaving politely will show your children how to behave throughout the divorce transition.
4. Do not bad mouth your spouse
In most cases both parents continue to play a role in a child’s life after divorce. A positive relationship with both parents is beneficial for children. Whether you have full custody or joint custody of your children it is important to preserve the relationship they have with both of their parents when possible. Speaking negatively of your spouse can negatively affect the parent-child relationship and your child’s development.
5. Educate yourself
Children are going to react differently to divorce. It is important to do some research about your child’s stage of development, the effects of divorce, and tips to help them adjust to the transition. This will help you understand how they feel, and learn the best way to have conversations with them about how they are feeling. In addition to being emotionally complicated, divorce can also be legally complex. You are not expected to be an expert in divorce law. It is vital to find a family law attorney to guide you through your divorce and answer any questions you may have. Doing so will allow you to focus on yourself and your family throughout the transition.