Separation or divorce can be especially difficult for children. However, allowing your child to spend time with both parents is important for their wellbeing and development. Unfortunately, the disruption to routines that splitting time causes can be detrimental to a child if handled improperly. Parents should take care to allow the child time to adjust to their new situation and use the following tips to help with the transition.
- Try to keep comparable schedules between homes.
Children thrive on routine, and when their routine is disrupted, it can cause emotional problems. If at all possible, work with your ex to ensure that your child has a stable routine no matter where he or she is sleeping that night. Bed times, dinner, and bath time are particularly important. Rules should also remain relatively constant as well.
- Working together is important.
If you do not get along with your ex, it can be difficult to keep the peace. However, you should put in a sincere effort to at least be polite to your ex in front of your children. This can be extremely hard, but try. Keep in mind that children thrive when parents use clear boundaries and rules. Communicating via text or email can sometimes be helpful if you cannot have a conversation with your ex without an argument.
- Do not talk badly about the other parent.
Even though it did not work out between you, the parent is still just that – a parent. He or she has a place in your child’s life, and talking badly about the other parent can lead to your child becoming confused and upset. Your child may internalize anything you say, so choose your words carefully.
- Consider what your child has to say.
Keep in mind that your child’s wishes are important. Making them comfortable should be the priority, so consider your child’s wishes in an age-appropriate way. Showing your child that you are listening to them and considering how they feel is important during this transitionary period. However, it is very important to only share information with your child in a way that they are emotionally mature enough and equipped to handle. Giving a child access to adult information or facts that he/she is not ready to handle can be extremely traumatic, and will be frowned upon by a judge (even if the information is true). We strongly advise seeking input from a child psychologist before sharing information with a child that has to do with infidelity, domestic violence, addiction, or mental health issues in yourself or the other parent.
- Be flexible when necessary.
Life happens, and the truth is that even the best shared custody arrangements may need to be rearranged occasionally. Control your anger, disappointment, or frustration and your child will often follow suit.
- Remember: It’s not about you.
A shared custody arrangement was developed in your situation because it is beneficial for both parents to see the child–for the sake of the child. Even though you may want to keep your baby to yourself, children often do better when they are exposed to both parents. Keep in mind that this arrangement is in your child’s best interests.
Sharing custody with your child can be hard, but it is doable. One of the most important steps in helping your child adjust is creating a plan that works for both parents to start with. Haas Tharrington, P.A. can help. We offer discounted consultation services to get you started. Call (919) 783-9669 for more information.