As you and your spouse work your way through a divorce, you can tell that it is hard on the children. You think it will be better for them in the end, considering what your relationship with your spouse was like before, but you know that you need to focus on the kids moving forward. You have to make this whole transition as smooth as you can for them.
The key is to really think through the ways you can do this well in advance, so that every decision you make can center around the needs and best interests of the kids. Here are five tips that can help you as you and your spouse move into a shared custody parenting arrangement:
1. Never make your children feel guilty about any part of this process.
Stress that the children are not to blame for the divorce. When they spend time with your ex, do not try to guilt them into spending time with you. Don’t tell them how they’re making your life more complicated or more expensive. Do not complain about custody time or child support obligations around them.
2. Do not make them choose between you and your ex.
The best solution for the kids is a joint parenting setup where they still see both of you. Making them pick puts them in an impossible situation. It can fracture relationships for years to come. Plus, young children could regret that choice in a few years, but the damage is already done.
3. Do not fight for every last second of your children’s time.
Yes, you want to stay involved, but remember that the children need balance. They need time with you and your ex. Do not try to take as much time as you can; instead, find an even split that gives you both time with the children.
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Talk to your ex. Text each other or send emails. Talk on social media. If you do not like talking on the phone or in person, find a way to stay in touch. Talk about the kids, their schedules, their needs and what is best for them. Communication helps the kids and helps avoid complicated disagreements about custody schedules and parenting plans.
5. Remember that your kids are all different.
Children need different things. Some need support. Others need advice. Some need extra attention. Some respond well to one type of discipline, while it does not work at all for others. Remember this as you decide how your co-parenting plan should be implemented. Create a flexible plan that works for all the children, prioritizing them over your own needs.
As you and your ex move forward with the divorce, make sure you know all of your parental rights.