Parenting is a tough job. Parenting after a divorce is even harder. Since children rarely want their parents to separate, divorce can be a very emotional experience for a child. Children often go from having one family home to transitioning between two homes for the remainder of their childhood. The best way to support your child through these transitions is to maintain a positive relationship with your ex-spouse. Here are some ways to help make the transition go smoothly.
Discussing where your child will be and when is not only essential to both parents but vitally important to your child. Having a schedule will let your child know what to expect and reduce his/her anxiety.
It is a good idea for both parents to talk about special events well in advance. Discussing which activities your child is involved with, as well as establishing a consistent set of house rules, will put everyone on the same page and reduce the potential for misunderstandings. No two parties parent exactly the same way, but the more consistency the better.
Encourage your child by talking optimistically about the upcoming transition and the time to be spent with his/her other parent. If necessary, be sure that your child is able to communicate with his/her other parent throughout the process.
Parents should work together to ensure that their child has what he/she needs at both locations, instead of having to pack a big bag full of essentials for each visit. Make sure that both homes are well-stocked with toothbrushes, soaps, shampoos, and other personal toiletries. If your child keeps clothing at both places, there will be less to pack. Make sure that you have toys and other familiar items that make your home special to your child.
Though packing will be light, try not to start immediately before your child is scheduled to leave. This could conjure feelings of anxiety or make your child feel rushed. Instead, turn packing into a special ritual that you do together. Make a game out of it or play music to help ease your child into leaving.
You may need to choose a neutral location, such as a school or other public place if your child is having a hard time leaving the other parent or if you do not get along with your ex-spouse. Dropping off your child instead of picking him/her up allows each parent to take the child to the desired “drop off point” and say good-bye in a pleasant and relaxed way. If you pick them up, it can feel like you are taking them away from their other parent. When they return to your home, have their other parent drop them off as well. Be punctual, and do not use this time to argue about an issue that you have with your ex-spouse. An even better scenario may be to have pick-up and drop-off directly at school or daycare, which makes the transition even easier as the parties aren’t involved at all.
Transitioning from one house to another can be tricky, so be sure to allow your child to have a little space when he/she returns to your house. Encourage your ex-spouse to do the same.
During the school week, have as few transitions as possible and allow your child to focus on school and extra-curricular activities that he/she enjoys. Make sure that homework or school projects are completed before the transition occurs.
Find a Routine
It may take some time, but find a routine that works and stick with it. Children thrive on routine and because divorce can be fraught with uncertainty, establishing a routine will give your child a sense of normalcy. Both you and your spouse should have special things that you do with your child. Continue to do those activities and make your time together special.
Sharing your children is often seen as the worst part of a divorce. It can be just as hard for your children as it is for you. Having a positive relationship with your ex-spouse, and discussing your plans with your child, makes things a little easier on everyone. By having two houses stocked, and packing in advance, your child will feel secure, no matter which home he/she is in. After a time, you will all settle into a routine and find balance.
If you are considering divorce and need the assistance of an experienced lawyer to help you work through some of these issues, then please contact Linda Sorg Ostovitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-575-0381.
ABOUT LINDA SORG OSTOVITZ
Linda Sorg Ostovitz is a family law attorney. Her legal experience spans more than 34 years. In this time, she has served as a leader, educator and advocate. Mrs. Ostovitz holds a prestigious fellowship in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Currently, she serves as President for the Business Women’s Network of Howard County, by which she was chosen Woman of Distinction for 2014. Mrs. Ostovitz represents clients in Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll and Baltimore Counties. Her practice focuses exclusively on divorce litigation and mediation, child custody and access, child support, alimony, business valuation, as well as property and asset distribution. In addition to providing legal representation in court, Mrs. Ostovitz provides mediation services to help families come to a fair and legally-sound conclusion outside of the traditional court proceedings.
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