Parenting after divorce is very difficult on your child. Its important to know that your children will need help adjusting to their new life. Here are some tips I have found that benefit my clients in parenting.
Your feelings matter too.
Your marriage may have been over for years, but you will also have emotions and needs that need to be addressed. You do not have to hide all your emotions from your child. However, do not overshare. Do not discuss your ex negatively with your child nor should you use your child as a confident. You do not want your child to assume a caregiver role.
Kids react to divorce in different ways:
Your child’s behavior at school may change, they may switch friends, or their grades change. Some children will attempt to fill the roll of the missing parent at each house in an effort to fill the vacuum that has been left. Others will strive to be perfect and put a tremendous amount of pressure on themselves. Remind your child to be a child.
When your child acts out:
There are a million reasons why kids act out after a divorce. It does not automatically mean something is wrong at the other parent’s home. Acting out is a reaction to the new changes in their lives, the loss of control, inability to handle their feelings. lack of rules, or blaming themselves for the divorce. Make rules for your home and hold your child accountable to those rules.
Different houses and different parenting styles:
In North Carolina, the parent with physical visitation makes the decisions regarding the children while the children are in their care. You are in charge of your children when they are with you and need to enforce the rules and principles you hope to instill. Parenting after divorce is hard, but focus on what is occurring in your home.
Don’t put your child in the middle:
Children often get caught in the middle. Put your child’s feelings first when they confide in you about their other parent. Hold your emotions and reactions in. If your child is comfortable discussing both positive and negative information about their other parent or their significant other, thats an amazing sign. My perfect custody case would involve my client never saying a negative word about their former spouse to their child.
When kids play parents off each other:
Parenting after divorce is hard. Your child will quickly figure out how to manipulate you and your former partner to get what they want, whether its a new iPhone, avoiding discipline, or attending an activity. When this occurs, seek out the other parent in a calm manner. If you catch your child in a lie, call them on it.
Transitioning between houses:
Kids often have trouble transitioning back and forth between houses. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything negative is occurring in the other home. This is why some parents prefer a week to week schedule to allow their child time to settle and attempt. Others prefer a long weekend schedule. Transition issues can include crying at exchanges, closing themselves off in their room, or frequent temper tantrums. Be empathetic to your child. They are processing very difficult emotions. Try to have your child identify their feeling and process through. Enforce your household rules.