Without a doubt, divorce can be one of the most life altering events one may experience. It involves a lot of work, time, a great family lawyer, money and more. The unfortunate reality is that children often get caught in the crossfire of their parent’s unresolved grief and anger over the loss of their marriage.
The dissolution of marriage is often fraught with unresolved emotional pain from both sides. It is important to acknowledge that healing from the divorce process takes time. Fortunately, there are a number of ways in which parents can ease their children into the process of drop offs and visitation. Drop off and visitation can actually become a positive (or even healing) experience for all involved.
Following are a few rules and tips to remember when navigating this often unavoidable consequence of divorce.
Refrain From Negative Comments
As tempting as it may be, it is important to not bad mouth the other parent. Saying negative things about the other parent can be extremely consequential as children get older, and can lead to long term psychological damage or resentment.
Regardless of how the marriage ended, or who was at fault, understand that the ex-spouse is still their parent.
With that being said, it is not necessary to go out of one’s way to paint their ex in a favorable manner either, but it is important to not make the other parent out to be the villain in the situation.
Do Not Skip Visitations
The divorce process can be tumultuous, and significant disruptions to a child’s day-to-day life often occur.
Therefore, it is important to help children get back to a more predictable schedule after the dust has settled. Parents who routinely skip visitation (as well as custodial parents who hold out on visitations) are causing their children psychological harm by doing so.
Children inherently thrive in a structured setting, and predictability is key. Making sure to show up and be on time for visitations and drop offs on an agreed upon schedule is paramount in helping children thrive after divorce.
The Drop off Process
Many parents feel awkward during the first few drop offs.
However, a positive way to ease any tension is to allow the parent who is picking up the child help unstrap the child from their car seat. This act will show the child that their parents are operating on a unified front, regardless of the circumstances.
Keep Favorite Foods Well Stocked
When children transition between homes, it can often feel quite overwhelming for them, especially at the beginning when the process is new.
A great idea would be for both homes to keep a few of their favorite snacks and toys on hand to help them feel at ease. Another great idea is to keep a copy of their favorite shows, books, or familiar board games on hand as well.
Whether visitation for the non-custodial parent is every other weekend, or summer break, it is important to address any potential modifications or changes to the schedule.
Sometimes things come up, through no fault of anyone. However by addressing any changes early, that parent can break the news gently to their child that their visitation may have to be rescheduled for another date or time.
Even though the marriage may have come to an end, it is often said that co-parents are connected together for life. Responsibilities do not come to an end once children turn 18.
There will likely be future graduations, marriages, and birth of grandchildren, which will keep exes inextricably bound forever. Over time, many exes will find peace and acceptance over their situation, and may even consider each other friends as years go by.
Divorce may have been the dissolution of the marriage bond, however, it can also become the start of a productive, healthy co-parenting relationship.