While divorce is the end of your marriage, it is not the end of your — or your spouse’s — role as parents. To help ease the stress that divorce puts on your children, you need to work together to co-parent peacefully; here are five tips that will help you:
Share custody. Absent any history of domestic violence or substance abuse, shared custody is the preferred choice as it gives your children equal access to both parents. The fact is that both of you will continue to be in each other’s lives because of your children, so putting any lingering negative feelings aside for the greater good of your children should be your top priority.
Put children first. While it is only natural for you to be feeling some emotional or financial stress after the end of your marriage, you need to put the needs of your children first. Focus on ensuring that their lives run as smoothly as possible after the divorce by keeping their schedules as normal as possible. Make every effort not to uproot them from their home, school, friends and family. When you are not with them, be sure you talk to them every day. Technology has made it incredibly easy to stay in touch; just sending them a text or two daily helps them feel loved and secure.
Make them choose and you could lose. You have heard it said many times: do NOT put your children in the middle of your mess! If you are angry and disrespectful toward the other parent, you put your children in the position of feeling they have to choose between you. This is an unnecessary agony for children, and often self-defeating for the guilty parent as children will naturally gravitate to the calm, stable parent rather than the one who is angry and spiteful.
Don’t practice parental alienation. Parental alienation is when a parent engages in conduct that attempts to negatively influence their children regarding the other parent. This can be obvious behavior like withholding visitation or badmouthing the other parent, or it can be subtle. In many cases, this behavior is self-defeating, as the parent who attempts to alienate children from the other parent winds up being alienated instead when the children catch on to the manipulative behavior.
Practice flexibility. If you do not have shared custody and the other parent has visitation rights, try to be as flexible as possible to ensure your children get to spend enough time with him or her. When your child is engaged in sports or other activities, be sure the non-custodial parent has the schedule so they can attend to support your child. And when both parents work, it is even more important to be flexible than to stick to a rigid schedule. You can rely on Murphy & Cistaro to skillfully negotiate and mediate your issues to a satisfactory resolution. Should the need arise, you can also count on our experience for being aggressive litigators if the situation calls for a more assertive response. Contact us today for your free consultation.