For parents, one of the most difficult parts of divorce is worrying about how it will affect their children. A father can be terrified about the idea of no longer living under the same roof as his children, or a stay-at-home mother can be heartbroken when she has to return to working outside the home, away from her children. It’s often difficult for each parent, even though each can experience different emotions.
If you are a parent who is on the edge of divorce, you likely have concerns of your own. Fortunately, it is possible to successfully co-parent after a divorce. Parents can emerge post-divorce with relationships with their children intact, if not stronger than it was before. Below are some good rules of thumb for getting through a custody dispute or divorce litigation:
Help your children cope. If your children are having a hard time with the divorce, you can seek a therapist’s advice or read books written by experts on the subject of children and divorce. Remember, divorce affects children too and it helps to be considerate of your children’s feelings and to listen.
Live close to your children. If you will be the non-custodial parent, we recommend living close to your children. While 20 or 40 minutes may seem ideal, living in the same school zone can make it much easier to stay connected to your kids. This way, you can see your children regularly and make it to ball games and dance practices without having to worry about traffic or other obstacles.
Be flexible about scheduling. You may have a lot of bitter emotions about your spouse, but you do not want those to affect your children. If for example, your spouse asks you to watch the children so he or she can work a double shift, and you can do it, say “yes.” Child custody is a lot easier when parents are willing to help each other out. Besides, you get bonus kid time when you take your children on the “other parent’s days.”
Be considerate when dating. When you decide to date again, be considerate of your children. Instead of hiring a babysitter on “your weekend,” wait until the children are at the other parent’s house. Be very careful of who you bring into your home. You don’t want to date anyone who has a record of child abuse or who has been convicted of a sex crime. Lastly, don’t be in a rush to introduce your dates to your children. It’s better to wait until you’re in a committed relationship before you make any introductions.