Divorces are hard enough without family dynamics coming into play. However, if you have children, your decisions will have a lasting impression on them.
In 2019, reports surfaced that there was ‘no perfect age’ for children to cope with divorce circumstances. Therefore, even if you’re hoping that older teenagers will understand your decisions, you may need to meet a different set of challenges instead.
Once the decision has been made to split, your first priority should be to refine your parenting techniques. All parties will need to adapt to these changing circumstances, and the needs of your family dynamic will evolve too.
Here are some parenting strategies to consider after a divorce.
A separation is not only an emotional upheaval but also a logistical challenge. There may be some distance between you and your ex-spouse, which naturally raises questions about where your kids will spend most of their time.
You will need to negotiate and compromise with your ex-spouse. You can also seek out child arrangement orders from qualified solicitors who can define time parameters acutely for you both if you and your ex-spouse can’t reach an agreement. Having an official process to follow can resolve disputes and bring clarity to the situation, which your kids will sorely need in these circumstances.
Once these details are in place, your parenting strategies can have a clearer direction and structure. You can then start to organise how you’ll help them with homework, teach them household chores, and of course, spend quality time together. Allow these arrangements to inform how your parenting strategies might work.
Keep your kids informed about how much time you’ll spend together too. Help them to set reasonable expectations. They may also appreciate your honesty, which will help you establish trust as you go forward.
Avoid the Blame Game
Divorce often has negative connotations. However, if the process has been managed carefully and considerately, it can actually be a point of liberation for all parties concerned.
You need to focus on the more positive elements of the separation after the divorce. Avoid blaming your ex-spouse. Assure your children that they are not to blame for the split either. The consistency of your approach matters here too, and any loss of temper can risk undermining the nurturing dynamic you’re trying to build.
Remember too that family conflicts undoubtedly affect your children, so your and your ex-spouse’s behaviour needs to be truly exemplary. If your kids can see that you’re calm and in control, they may start to emulate your attitudes themselves. Don’t get drawn into feelings of resentment, and instead, communicate divorce as the end of one chapter and the beginning of a better one.
Some parents choose to play ‘good cop, bad cop’, but these strategies can prove ineffective after a divorce. If you go down this route, your kids will forever associate one parent with fun and laughter and another with misery.
There needs to be a sense of balance here. Your kids should receive equal amounts of love and attention irrespective of which household they’re staying at. Additionally, you should consider that this approach can lead to uneven parenting. You and your ex-spouse will teach different lessons, leading to confusion in your children or perceived hypocrisy.
Remember, even though you’re divorced, you and your ex-spouse should put on a united front when it comes to parenting. That means reinforcing one another’s rules and providing equal opportunities for discipline and fun. Otherwise, you risk your kids picking favourites, which risks splitting the family dynamic even more.
Your divorce shouldn’t be a taboo topic. Avoid offloading your emotional baggage onto your child, but do ask them questions about their own well-being.
Keep in mind that divorce isn’t one singular event. For your children, it’s their new reality for a lifetime, and their thoughts and feelings about it may evolve as they grow up. You should try to monitor those changes as time goes on and talk about them too.
Despite all the upset your divorce might cause, it’s a great opportunity to establish yourself as a parent who can speak candidly about mental and emotional well-being. You could request feedback on whether there is anything you and your ex-spouse could be doing better.
All of this demonstrates that you’re considerate of their feelings and not above their struggle. Sadly, some parents simply go through the motions, but you should get on your child’s level and open yourself up to scrutiny. That way, the divorce can be used as an opportunity to enhance your relationship rather than diminish it.
Much pre-planning is required before you can successfully parent during and after a divorce. Try not to assume this is something you can improvise or learn with time. Use the parameters that your solicitors implement to inform the structure of your parenting techniques and focus on balance, fairness, and empathy in all that you do. After that, a better family dynamic is assured.