Struggling to make joint custody work?
Any type of conflict between two parents separated or not, can be very damaging for kids. It’s important to remember to avoid putting your children in the middle of fights, or making them feel like they have to choose which parent is right or wrong.
A great goal is to avoid lasting stress and pain for your children. The following tips can help.
Things to remember…
- Take it somewhere else. Try not to argue in front of your children, whether it’s in person or over the phone. Ask your ex to talk another time, email, or drop the conversation altogether.
- Use discretion. Refrain from talking with your children about details of their other parent’s behavior. It’s the oldest rule in the book: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
- Be nice. Be polite in your interactions with your ex-spouse. This not only sets a good example for your kids but can also set an example for how you want your ex to act.
- See the positive in a challenging situation. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is be positive and motivate yourself and your children to move forward.
- Work on it. Make it a priority to try to develop a friendly relationship with your ex. Your kids watching you be friendly can be reassuring for them.
Can you see the big picture?
If you find yourself, time after time, battling with your ex over how to parent, try to step back and remember what is best for your kid. Ask yourself what makes them happy and what do they want?
When you’re trying to see the big picture, think about the points below.
- Relationship with both parents. What’s best for your kids in the long run? Having a good relationship with both of their parents throughout their lives.
- The long term. Think about what is best in the long term for you and your family.
- Everyone’s well-being. The happiness of your children, yourself, and, yes, even your ex, should be what’s most important after divorce.
Do you know when to seek help?
Some children go through divorce with few problems, while others have a very challenging time. It’s normal for kids to feel an different emotions, but time, love, and reassurance should help them to heal. If your kid remains overwhelmed, stressed, and it seems like there is a challenge that is out of your hands, you may need to seek professional help.
Here are some normal reactions to separation and divorce.
- Anger. Your kids may express their anger, rage, and resentment with you and your spouse for changing their sense of normalcy.
- Anxiety. It’s natural for children to feel anxious when faced with big changes in their lives.
- Mild depression. Sadness about the family’s new situation is normal.
It will take some time for your kids to understand their parents’ divorce but you should see gradual improvement over time.
Have you encountered more serious problems?
Some warning signs are…
- Self-injury, cutting, or eating disorders
- Frequent angry or violent outbursts
- Withdrawal from loved ones
- Sleep problems
- Poor concentration
- Trouble at school
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Refusal of loved activities
If things get worse rather than better after several months, it may be a sign that your child is stuck and could use some additional support. Definitely consider a therapist, or a mentor of some kind. Do you research and find out which person or service would help your child the best. Also ask for their input as well. You’ll be surprised to find out young people desire adult connections.
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