Divorce often means that children move to a new living situation, change schools, change child caregivers, and so on. These changes have lots of implications for the kids. They’ll have to make new friends, they may not be able to see extended family as much as they’re used to, and they’ll have to create a new life routine between two homes. Even under the best co-parenting arrangement, these changes are stressful for kids. And while there’s no way you can eliminate the stress that comes with having parents divorce, there are ways you can mitigate and counteract the stress of these changes. Here are some suggestions:
- Keep the kids in the same school if possible, even if you have to move to accomplish that.
- Make every effort to allow them to continue in their extracurricular activities: band, dance, swimming, scouting, sports, and so on.
- Help them find someone to talk to: a guidance counselor at school, a children’s counselor, another trusted parent with whom your child is comfortable, a youth pastor, or a coach. Kids always need an outlet other than parents, and kids who find a caring adult who can fill that role are blessed. Those relationships often extend well into adulthood. Be intentional—find someone with whom they can air their pain and frustration.
- Don’t over-schedule your life. Allow time and space to relax and enjoy the children, to take walks around the park and be together. Even though you may find it’s better for you to “keep busy” to keep your mind off the divorce, it’s best to follow that pattern when the kids are at the other parent’s house. When they’re with you, try to slow down. Take time to bake cookies, plant flowers, walk the dog together, go hiking, and just relax.
- If you do have to move, help the kids keep in touch with friends, either by arranging visits or weekly chats on Skype.
- Let your kids grieve—they feel it and they need to say it. Listen to them with love.
- Keep as many “familiar” things in their environment—bedspreads, toys, etc.—as you can.
- Remind them that you are a family, no matter what walls you live within.
Taken with permission from CO-PARENTING WORKS! How to build a co-parenting TEAM after divorce By Tammy Daughtry, The Co-parenting Coach.