Divorce marks the end of one era and the start of another chapter. This is especially true with parenting after a divorce. In this blog, I will discuss the highs and lows of parenting after a divorce, offering insights where possible. With my own divorce, I tried my best to ensure the kids kept the same routine. Regardless of where they stayed any given night, they stayed at the same school. They stayed in the same activities, whether it was karate or Boy Scouts. Reflecting on this, I found the following to be excellent strategies:
Establish and maintain communication with your ex-partner, even when you don’t feel like doing so. Keep in mind that your kids want to be loved by both parents. And they did not ask for what’s happening in their world. Discuss schedules, important decisions, and concerns openly and with respect. Treat it like a business. Keep personal regrets or resentment out of the equation. In a prior blog, I discussed divorce and its impact on children. Courts use the best interests of the children in all decisions, paying careful attention on whether the parents are placing the kids’ needs before his or her own.
Strive to keep consistent rules and routines across both households. This does not have to precise, but it helps kids when parents confer and try to keep the same schedules for their kids. The same applies for any activities with which the kids are involved. Whether it be sports or band, make sure the kids are where they need to be, on time and ready to go.
Present a United Front
I have seen this all too often in both personal and professional life. Present a united front to your children. Despite the divorce, this will foster a sense of security and reduces confusion. It also will stop your kids from playing one parent against the other parent. It’s hard enough to raise kids in a new home; don’t make it harder than it has to be.
Be open to adjusting schedules as needed. The Florida Statutes actually direct courts to consider this in making custody arrangements. Circumstances change, and it helps kids to be flexible. If you or your former partner have a work conflict, be open to making temporary adjustments as needed. Encourage having both parents attend school functions and events. Your kids will benefit and hopefully, it will produce harmony.
Actively listen to your former partner’s concerns and perspective. This does not mean automatically adopting what you are told, but it does mean not ruling it out before your partner even says something. Choose your battles wisely, and avoid needless conflict. Focus on what is best for your kids. Be honest with yourself and keep in mind that kids will always look up to both parents. You are setting a role model, and your kids are paying attention.