Divorce doesn’t only have an impact on the couple — it affects the children as well. After a divorce, the children will likely not see both their parents on a daily basis. They might also have to adjust to a new environment if a parent has moved. Being raised in two different households can be emotionally difficult for children and such situations must be handled with care and understanding. However, by minimizing the number of transitions for your children, and keeping their best interests at the forefront, you can help them weather the divorce.

Limit the Number of Things That Change

Children face many changes when their parents part ways. By keeping the number of things that change under five, you can help ensure your children better adjust. For instance, moving somewhere else, going to a different school, or not having access to their favorite playmates, pets, or toys can be traumatic for a child. Try to keep as many things as possible the same in the child’s life to reduce the effects of divorce. But, do not put yourself in financial peril to do that, either. That can cause other stress on the children.

Have a Set of Items at Each House

Having to constantly transition between two households can be overwhelming for a child. Packing a bag each time they will be staying at the other parent’s house can not only be stressful, but it can make them feel like a guest. Keep one set of toiletries, clothing, and other essential items for the child at each house so that they can feel comfortable and at home. Make sure they have familiar favorite items such as a much loved stuffed animal or toys at each house.

Keep a Routine

Children thrive with routine and can feel more secure when they know what to expect. When children know that even when they switch homes their routine will be relatively the same, they can feel more at ease. This also means maintaining the same rules, expectations, and methods of discipline in each household as much as possible. Talk as parents about changes at a home to see how you can reinforce or support consistency.

Make Changeovers Conflict Free

Seeing their parents fight during a parenting time changeover can be stressful for a child. No matter how angry or upset you might be with the other parent, you should refrain from displaying this in front of the children. It’s important to understand that children pick up on their parents’ emotions and body language. If you need to discuss things like child support, expenses, scheduling, parenting time, or any other matters that might be contentious, save the conversation for another time.

Be Respectful of the Other Parent’s Time

Changeovers will be a common part of your co-parenting relationship. When making a parenting time exchange, it’s essential to be respectful of the other parent’s time. Nothing can create more tension than a parent being late and while things can come up, neither party should make a habit of it. While it’s important to be flexible, be sure to give the other parent a heads-up if you’ll be running late. Consider having school be the natural transition place for a child where parenting time ends at a morning drop off and begins for the other parent at pick up.

Don’t Make Your Child a Messenger

Don’t ask your child to deliver messages to your co-parent or report back to you on what was going on in the other household. This can make them feel caught in the middle of their parents. You should have your own communication system with your co-parent, whether it be through phone, email, text, or any other method. Our Family Wizard is a communication platform designed for divorced parents that has a low annual fee or is available for free if income requirements are met. Using your child as a messenger can have a significant impact on their well-being, no matter how simple the message might seem.

Develop a Unified Front

When parents have a unified front, children will know what is expected of them and feel more secure. Don’t talk badly about the other parent in front of the child and allow them to feel comfortable in both households. In addition, children should always feel that they have access to both their parents and know that they are able to call them, no matter which home they are in at the time. Both parents should be willing to collaborate with each other. Telling your child that you will discuss something with the other parent before giving them an answer on some questions can help them know that you work as a team on their behalf.

Create a Ritual

If you find that your children are having difficulty transitioning between homes, you might consider creating a ritual. For example, if a child becomes upset each time they are dropped off at the other parent’s home, that parent might choose an activity they do together during each transition. This can allow the child to have an opportunity to decompress and transition into their routine. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate ritual — it can be something like doing a puzzle, coloring, reading a book, or playing a game together. Even giving your child 30 minute and 10 minute notices of when a transition will happen can help them prepare for the transition.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key to positive co-parenting and helping your children transition between homes. Whether it concerns creating a schedule, keeping a routine, discipline methods, or fostering communication, being consistent can help children adapt to life after divorce. The more consistency and predictability children have, the easier transitions will be for them.

Contact an Experienced Minnesota Divorce and Family Law Attorney

Co-parenting can be challenging and it’s vital to make sure the best interests of your children always come first. By having a knowledgeable family law attorney on your side, you can more easily navigate the process of creating a parenting plan and custody arrangement that will work for your children. Divorce and family law attorney Louise Livesay has been committed to helping clients in the Twin Cities area with a wide variety of divorce and family law matters for over two decades. We welcome you to contact us online for a consultation or by calling 651-294-2338.

Categories: Divorce