After divorce, children often have a difficult time transitioning back and forth between two homes. They are often forced to pack up their belongings, say goodbye to one parent and move back to the other parent’s home. While constant moving is hard for the most seasoned traveler, it is particularly difficult on children. The following advice will help parents ease the transition for their children.
- use a calendar to track the days children will live with each parent
- help children pack their bags in advance to prevent stress
- give children time to adjust after returning home
- establish a set plan of things to do when your child returns home
- be consistent with rules and discipline
- use your child as a messenger
- vent to children about the other parent
- argue in front of your child
- set unrealistic budgets for your child’s activities
- blame the other parent if your child doesn’t want to spend time with you
Use a calendar to consistently mark the days in which children will live with each parent. Allowing children to see this calendar in the same spot in both homes, such as on the refrigerator, allows them to anticipate the days they will be moving to each house and will help them mentally prepare for it.
Parents should help their children pack their bags in advance. The stress levels of your children will definitely rise as they rush to pack, and they worry that they may forget something. Children should be fully packed at least one day in advance. Both parents should provide basic necessities at both homes, such as a toothbrush, hairbrush, pajamas and a spare change of clothes.
Be sure to give children ample time to adjust after returning back home. Try to provide some down time, where both you and your child can relax during dinner, tv or a movie. Children typically dislike being quizzed about what they did at the other parent’s house. Instead of asking questions immediately, give your children space to themselves and time to enjoy your company.
Because children thrive on routine, you should establish a routine of the things you do together when your child returns home. Consider serving the same special meal for dinner or watch the same television program that you both enjoy. Your children will be relaxed knowing what to expect upon walking into your home and doing an activity that is naturally relaxing to them.
Always aim for consistency with rules and discipline between both homes. Children can use their parents against one another if there are irregularities in the chores and expectations between homes. While parents may not see eye-to-eye on every issue, parents who follow the same rules and discipline for their children will have kids that adapt better to their divorce.
While some parents refuse to communicate with one another, your children do not want to do the work for you. Children should not be involved in discussions about who is paying for school fees, extracurricular activities, etc. Drop your ex-spouse a text, email or letter, but don’t involve your kids.
Don’t talk to your children about the errors or bad choices the other parent is making in raising them. Parents should never vent to their children. Instead, parents should talk to family, friends, or therapists when they need to get negative feelings off their chest. Exercise also can be a healthy outlet for letting off steam.
Never argue with each other in front of children about issues relating to them. Parents should always think about their child’s well-being and understand that arguing causes stress for kids. Try to communicate with each other as though you are in a business relationship and make an effort to remove all emotions from the conversation.
After divorce, the cost of maintaining two separate households can strain your attempts at being effective co-parents. Parents should meet to discuss a realistic budget and keep accurate records for shared expenses and reimbursement.
While it can be tough on parents to be told their child does not want to spend time with them, it is common. Instead of assuming the other parent is causing the behavior, consider paying more attention to your child or changing your discipline program. Give yourself and your child some space to brainstorm more solutions. You should also talk with your ex-spouse to find a possible solution together.
After a divorce, it can be very difficult for children to adjust to living arrangements between the new homes of their parents. While the constant moving can become taxing, it is possible to make the transition easier for children.