Helping your children adjust after your divorce is essential. Heather Smith offers excellent advice on what you should do to help you child after the dust settles.
Here is Heather's blog:
4 Steps to Take with Your Child After Divorce
You have sat your child down and given the dreaded speech that you never thought you would have to make. Mom and Dad are getting a divorce are some of the most difficult words a child will hear from their parents mouth. There are a few things that will help you and your child during this time; here are 4 things to consider doing:
Get them a counselor: Once you have shared the unfortunate news with your child it is important that no matter their age, you get them a counselor to speak with. Weekly sessions are best for them. It gives them one day a week to discuss and work out their thoughts and feelings. Children have a difficulty opening up to parents and need that third party when it comes to dealing with the divorce. It is a life change for them as well and you need to provide them with help.
Keep quiet: No matter what you do, keep your thoughts to yourself. Do not speak negatively about your former spouse in front of the child. Keep your arguments and frustrations away from the child. Do not share details of the divorce. It is so important to keep that out of the child’s life. Children already feel a sense of responsibility of the parents’ divorce and hearing things like this will only push them further into that belief. As hard as it can be to keep your feelings in, just do it.
Remain positive Make the transition easier on them by remaining positive. Most likely parental rights and visit have been established and now come the difficult part for child, spending time in two different homes. When you drop off and pick up, be sure you remain positive. Be interested in their time at the others house and respond with a smile. You want this to be easy and comfortable for the child.
Get them involved and active: If you child isn’t already part of a sports team or involved in a hobby, be sure that you start them in something. There are all sorts of emotions for your child during this time and having a sport or hobby is a great for them to express it without doing harm to themselves or others when they act out. Sports teams are great because they require practices and game days. They are exercising and socializing with peers their age and can act like a child that they are. Hobbies like painting, learning a musical instrument will stimulate the child’s need to share their emotions. Try a few things out and allow your child to make the decision on what makes them the happiest.
Your divorce is what you make it. It may be a difficult and stressful time for you, but remember you aren’t the only one feeling that pain. Remain positive, get your child involved, find them a counselor and always keep your negative thoughts to yourself. Don’t allow your child to feel like it’s their fault, because it is never the child’s fault.
Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to nanny service by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at] gmail.com.
The Parental Planner is a new way for separated parents to communicate with one another. It is a essentially a communications journal that is passed between parents at the time of exchanging the children.
The advantage to using a communications journal is that it avoids face-to-face confrontations. You can also ensure all the pertinent information is exchanged. It also serves as a record of communications between parents. It helps parents who are separated to try to maintain some consistency in their parenting between homes. I also like that it has plastic folders in it so that documents such as health insurance cards can go back and forth easily.
It is best to keep it available so that you can jot information into whenever the need arises.
Although it not intended to be shared with the children, it should be written in such a way that if your children do stumble upon it, you will be proud of what you have written in it. So don't criticize the other parent. Always be respectful of one another in your communications.
Don't forget to also share positive events in the children's lives such a milestones and achievements.
If you are angry at the other parent, put the journal down! Let your steam off some other way and then, when cooler heads prevail, you can write in the journal.
The Parental Planner is simple and yet comprehensive.
Learn more about it at www.ParentalPlanner.com.
And it's Canadian!
Parenting is not easy. Parenting when separated is even more difficult.
Mark A. Nacol, a Texas family law lawyer, in his blog Nacol Law Firm Blog does an excellent job describing the rules for effective co-parenting.
Mark's list of rules may seem to be "common sense" but when you are the parent trying to work with someone who either has rejected you as a spouse, or whom you have rejected, it is very difficult. Emotions and egos get in the way.
A key to responding to the other parent in an effective manner is to take a few minutes, even overnight, to consider your response. Too often knee-jerk immediate responses can cause more problems than they solve. This is especially true when you have first separated. The emotions are so raw that co-parenting is very difficult.
My advice: read Mark's rules and then take a deep breath. Consider your response carefully. Sleep on it. Co-parenting gets easier in time. Be patient. Soon Mark's "rules" will become "common sense". Until then...follow the rules and breaaaattthhhhhh...
When you become a parent, nobody tells you that you will become a personal taxi driver for your children! You will drive them to their sports activities, their music lessons, their friends' homes and, if you have separated from the other parent, you might have to do some driving to and from their other parent's home.
I enjoy driving my children around to their activities. I view it as an opportunity to talk about everything going on in our lives. Sometimes we talk about something they hear on the radio (news, sports or opinion pieces). Sometimes we talk about the daily events of their lives. Sometimes we just talk about the weather or maybe someone will say "hey, that's a nice looking car". It doesn't matter what we talk about... the point is we are talking.
When parents separate, the question often arises: who should do the driving when the children move from one parent's home to the other?
If you and the other parent cannot work out an agreement on your own, here are the general principles used by most judges in Ontario:
- If the children reside primarily with one parent, the other parent should do the pick up and drop off of the children. The reason for this is that it is assumed that the primary parent does more driving of the children to their activities since they are with them more often.
- If the parents share about equal time with the children, they should share about equal driving responsibilities.
- If one parent, moves far away from the other parent, the moving parent will usually have to do most of the driving for access exchanges.
Often clients argue about who has to do the driving. Neither wants to do it. At the high price of gasoline these days, I can understand their desire to minimize the amount of driving. On the other hand, the opportunity to spend time with your children, without the distraction of the television and the computer, is precious. I say "Don't argue too hard."
Take advantage of the opportunity to spend time with your children. Soon they will be leaving home and you will long for hours spent together going somewhere.... anywhere..... together.
Co-parenting after divorce is not easy. It's like walking a tight rope at first.
You want to be cooperative and communicate well but on the other hand how close is too close with your ex spouse?
1. Don't give your spouse that sexy look.
2. Don't hug your ex spouse.
3. Don't give your spouse too much attention at social events.
4. Don't stay too chummy with your ex spouse's family.
5. Don't use your ex spouse's friends.
There are two sides of the coin. I fully agree with Karen but would add the following:
1. Don't give your ex spouse that dirty look like you are disgusted by them. How would you feel if you saw one of your parents give the other parent that kind of look?
2. Don't push your ex spouse away. If you need a hand, ask for help. If your ex needs a hand, help out. Treat your ex like a good neighbour.
3. Don't pretend that your ex spouse does not even exist when at social events. Occasional eye contact is polite. Maybe you could even say "hi" . It wouldn't kill you.
4. You don't have to be enemies with your ex spouse's family. You can still be friends. There are a lifetime of events you will share so reach out and try to break the ice. It is awkward but worth some effort to make things comfortable for everyone, especially your children.
5. Your friends can be your ex spouse's friends. It isn't fair to ask them to keep secrets so remember that what you say or do may get back to your ex spouse. If you have something to hide, be careful. But, hey, who has something to hide?
Striking the right balance is a real challenge. Working with a Family Coach or Divorce Coach (both are therapists with special training to help clients move through the emotional stages of divorce) really helps.
Walking on a tight rope is challenging at first. You might fall from time to time. Your spouse might fall too. Be patient. Put in supports to catch you when you fall such as a Family Coach. Raising kids is like being in a circus. Co-parenting is just another act! You can do it... one step at a time!
I just stumbled upon a wonderful new blog jointly authored by two parents sharing joint custody of their children. It is honest, heartfelt, insightful and engaging. The authors are New Yorkers Magda Pecsenye and Douglas French.
Their blog is called "When the Flame Goes Up" .
Here is an excerpt from a blog posting by the father, Doug French, talking about the state his relationship with his now ex-wife and co-parent (and co-author) Magda Pecsenye.
... I’m not in love with her anymore, and that ship has sunk.
I don’t say that lightly, because not being in love with the mother of my kids is a drag. Ever since I was a young adult, I had visualized a specific event in my head. It was to attend my youngest kid’s college graduation, look over at my wife, my life partner, plant a big kiss on her and say, “We did it.” We stayed together, we weathered the storms, and we did all we could to raise emotionally stable kids who can function in the adult world.
I spent a long time mourning what I perceived was the loss of that, but when you think about it, it’s still sort of partially possible. All that’s really missing is the kiss, the most expendable pigment in the painting.
Doug and Magda were interviewed by the Globe and Mail about their experience blogging together. It is worth a glance too. The comments are negative. I like the blog. I think it is helpful for someone who is trying to establish their own shared custody regime just to get a sense of the struggle; the ups and downs of co-parenting.
I think the bottom line message from this couple is that when you go through a divorce and you have children, it's never completely over. You still have to parent together, so you might as well get on with it as best you can. I like it.