Divorce can be hard on children, in part because it undermines their expectations for life. A parental divorce is a major destabilizing event that can cause emotional trauma and bad behavior in your children.
While divorce is never easy, the good news is that there are few ways that you and your ex can make the entire process easier on your family. Focusing on stability for your children can be a great approach to making divorce less traumatizing. The following three forms of stability can help make the transition to your new family situation better for everyone.
- Keep the schools consistent if you can
Your children have a lifetime of relationships developed in the form of their school peers. One of the hardest parts about divorce is often the decision of parents to sell the home and move to different places.
Kids find themselves not just dealing with a change in their family but also a complete change in their social circle. If at all possible, make it a priority to keep at least one parent in the same school district so that the children can benefit from their peer networks.
- The schedule of their daily lives should be consistent
It only takes a few days for children to fall off of an established routine. Agreeing on certain things with your ex like when the kids go to bed, when they get up in the morning and what time they eat meals is important to keep things consistent between both households.
When your kids know what to expect in their daily schedule, it will be easier for them to alternate between households. Different bedtime and wake-up times can be particularly disrupting because it can take several days for children to adjust to a new sleep schedule, only to have to change again when the other parent has parenting time again.
- Consistent rules at both houses are better for kids and their parents
When rules like how much screen time they can have and what school performance you expect are the same at both houses, the children don’t have to manage two sets of expectations. It is a lot easier if rules are the same at your independent households as they were before when you got married.
If they must change, it is best if both parents can agree to the same set of rules. Including them in the parenting plan ensures that there will be transparency and the opportunity for accountability for both parents and children.
Consistent rules and expectations are beneficial for parents as well because they make it harder for kids to manipulate parents. You won’t believe the claim that they were confused about their curfew if you know that the curfew is the same at both houses.
Sharing custody isn’t always going to be easy, but a focus on making things easiest for the kids could make the process a little smoother for your whole family.