Divorce is never easy. Adults must figure out how to regulate their emotions regarding the split and the situations that caused it. If that task wasn’t difficult enough, many divorcees also have children to think about. Children might have some difficulty navigating this new family dynamic, so it’s up to their parents to help guide them through. Co-parenting can be difficult, but as long as a parent knows how to help streamline the change, their child may get used to it in no time.
Try Vacations Together
Sometimes, combined vacations just make sense, especially price-wise. Even in cases where ex-spouses remarry to other people, a shared vacation with all of their parents might be fun for the child. Prioritizing the child over everything else, even a feud that might have led to a divorce, can help them grow up happier and healthier. Since kids often don’t want to feel like they have to choose between parents for vacations, having a combined vacation can pay off the most. That way, both parents can share the costs and make memories with their child.
Set Feelings Aside
Adults have greater capabilities regarding handling their emotions than children do. However much the divorce may have hurt, an adult can process their feelings in their alone time or with a therapist. A child may not be able to comprehend the emotions their parents are feeling regarding their separation. When a parent stays focused on their kid throughout this process, they can work through their emotions elsewhere, and their child will be able to heal well, too.
Figure Out Responsibilities
Because the child will likely be going between two homes regularly, the parents need to figure out who will be taking care of them in certain circumstances. The parents should figure out who will be the point of contact for medical issues, and how finances will be split up between the two of them.
Tackling these tricky topics, as they likely did during their marriage, will help parents have a better understanding of their primary roles as parents going through a divorce. It should also alleviate some anxiety about the unknown. When each parent has a primary role, such as being the point of contact, they can know what is expected of them.
Children Are Not Messengers
Children might be uncomfortable carrying messages back and forth from their parents. It should be up to the parents to maintain a healthy channel of communication so they can make the best decisions together regarding their child. They shouldn’t use their child to figure out what their ex-spouse is up to. When the parents communicate healthily about decisions regarding their child, putting their own emotions aside, the child will thrive, even if their parents are divorced.
Don’t Villainize the Ex
Sometimes, parents split because one of them did something terribly wrong. In many other cases, the split happens because two people are incompatible and they’ve grown apart over the years. Many parents might take these opportunities to promote themselves as the “good” or “fun” parent, thereby villainizing the ex-spouse. This tactic happens sometimes, but it isn’t good for either parent or their child.
Children might feel caught in the middle or turn against a parent while being influenced by one of their parents. To have a healthy relationship with their child, parents must be honest and open, never villainizing or making up stories about the ex to make them look worse in their children’s eyes. Part of being an adult is recognizing mistakes and learning from them. In many cases of divorce, both parties play a role in the dissolution of the marriage. A mature adult shouldn’t use the divorce as leverage against their ex, especially if they’ve both done wrongs that led to the split.
Set Up a Schedule
A schedule of when a child should be in which location is the easiest way to avoid conflicts between divorced parents. When there’s a set schedule, parents don’t need to communicate as much — though they still need to communicate. Schedules can help parents communicate when they feel like they no longer have a basis to communicate on. Knowing their schedule can also help a child feel at ease with a predictable routine, eliminating some stress they might have about where they’re going and when they’ll see each parent.
Learn to Apologize
Parents should be ready to apologize to their children when they do something that hurts them, even unintentionally. Freely handing out those apologies when they’re deserved will help children grow up understanding healthier relationships. Some parents may feel inclined to apologize to their ex, whether about a mix-up in the present or something in the past. Apologizing can improve relationships and make it easier to communicate with exes about their shared children.
Having a support system is key to getting through any difficult situation. Adults should turn to therapy for knowledge on how to process their specific divorce, as the situations leading up to it are unique. Positive affirmations can remind you that you have a support system that loves you, even if you may not get to see them every day. Adults who work on themselves will also make better parents for children trying to navigate through a difficult time with divorced parents who still work together to parent.
Learn to Compromise
Compromises are not easy. Sometimes, divorced parents may not be able to spend holidays together for their children. One parent might have to let the child go to the other parent’s house for a certain holiday, then return to theirs for another holiday. Learning to compromise might be difficult, but it can be best for the child.
Adults can practice compromise by agreeing to disagree with someone. They can also try to think of a win-win scenario, where they’ll get something they want, and so will the other person. Then, they can transition these skills into compromising with their ex about their children.
Co-Parenting for the Benefit of the Child
Co-parenting might be difficult, especially if two exes are not friends. However, they have to learn how to put their child first, which involves talking to and collaborating with their ex-spouse. No matter how large the family gets, if one parent remarries and has additional children, the child should remain the priority. Communication is key to having a healthy relationship with another parent, even if they are no longer married. Co-parenting also takes some of the stress off of being a single parent — and in time, it might even get easier.