Being a parent is incredibly rewarding, but it is a tremendous responsibility. It’s hard enough to navigate parenthood alongside your spouse, and the additional stress of a divorce can make it even more challenging to feel like a successful parent. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take and resources you can seek out if you are a parent who is going through a divorce. Just because your marriage is ending, you can still enjoy a fulfilling relationship with your child. Even if your child will not live with you most of the time, you can find ways to cultivate your bond with your child and implement strategies that allow you and your ex to continue to support your child as best as you can. Here are a few ways to make it easier for you and your ex to successfully co-parent your child following your divorce.
Let Your Child Know You Understand
Whenever you can, take the time to get down on your child’s level—yes, this means crouching down to eye level, in some cases—and tell them that you understand their concerns. Validate your child’s emotions by making simple observations, such as, “I know how hard it can be to move between houses.” Then, follow these observations with invitations, such as, “So, what can I do to help you? How can I make this transition smoother for you?” By letting your child know that you hear their concerns and recognize that having separated parents is occasionally a hassle, you are sending them the message that you care about their feelings and therefore developing a stronger relationship with them.
Check in With Your Ex
No one expects you to be great friends with your ex. However, it helps if you can both put your differences and burdens aside once in awhile so that you can communicate clearly about the logistics of raising your child. Make sure you go over the custody schedule, including sports or school obligations, so that the parent who is caring for the child over the weekend understands where they need to go and at what time. When both parents are able to work together to build a clear schedule for the child, life runs more smoothly and happily for everyone involved.
While the concept of “self-care” has become a bit of a cliche in recent years, it is important to be mindful of your emotions so that you can help yourself become the best parent you can be. If you are not addressing your needs, how can you expect to fully serve the needs of your child? So, if you feel lonely on the days when your child is with your ex, acknowledge these feelings and develop some useful coping strategies. For instance, take yourself to the movies, meet up with friends for happy hour, or take a long run—activities that are easier to do kid-free. Then, when your kid is back in your care, you’ll have the energy to be more present and attentive to their needs because you’ve taken that much-needed time for yourself.
If you live in the Spokane area and you have questions about custody or co-parenting following a divorce, reach out to Stanley A. Kempner Jr. Attorney at Law today by calling 509-590-4563.