Divorce can be one of the most difficult things for a child to go through.Ask any adult that went through it when they were a kid and they’ll tell you how difficult it can be and how it’s changed the way they look at relationships as an adult.
Unfortunately, divorce comes with a lot of emotion. You’re going to have to put your kids through the process. If you have a plan and dedicate time to it , there’s a great chance that your kids will look back and not have bitter memories.
Even newborns want consistency, it’s a basic need for most people. When you decide to divorce, you’re changing up that consistency, which is often the scariest time for children. They begin to ask questions like, “Will I still see mommy/daddy?” because they’re not sure how this is going to work.
The first thing you need to do is create a plan with the other parent and share it with your kids so they have an idea of what’s going to happen. Then, and this is most important… Stick to it! Nothing will scare the kids more than the unknown. Let them know that everything is stable and you guys have control of the situation, even if you don’t.
It’s going to be difficult to work with the other parent but it’s essential that you both make some compromises in the interest of the kids. This plan has to be made with as much logic as possible and try to leave your emotions out of it. This plan has to cover issues that you both find important, as well as the issues that are important to just one parent.
If you’re resisting the other parent’s requests, you need to ask yourself if you’re doing it for you or for the children. If you’re pushing back in the best interest of the kids, then you may be doing the right thing, but make sure it’s not due to spite or negative emotions towards the other parent. Most parents can’t work together to create a plan because they can’t get along. They spend more time pointing fingers than problem solving. Try to be the bigger person and get a plan created in the best interest of your children.
If the two of you can’t compromise, it’s in your best interest to hire a trained mediator or family law attorney who will work with both parents to get a plan put together. The mediator is impartial, they won’t take sides and they’ll help you both get setup for success by discussing implementation of the plan – an often overlooked part of a parenting plan after divorce.
Mediators are usually successful because they remove the power struggle between the parents and start by focusing on the items that both parents agree on. Once both parents have said yes a few times, they’re much more likely to say yes again. Mediators are also great substitutes to divorce litigation. If you’re just beginning to explore your divorce options, consider looking into mediation. Mediation is much cheaper than litigation which is a win-win for everyone, especially your children.
For more information on mediation, read Mediation Law in Cook County: An Alternative to Litigation
Your kids are going to grow and need different things from both of their parents. Your post-divorce parenting plan should change, as well. At the least, consider scheduling time to adjust the parenting plan once a year.
Keep in mind, what’s most important is making sure you take care of your children’s mental, physical, and emotional needs. Things are going to change over the next few years but you’re both parents and need to make sure you can work together and ensure your kids remain healthy and happy through this emotional transition.