For many parents, their biggest concern during a divorce is their children. They know the process will be painful for everyone, but they wish they could protect their children from that pain. The good news is that there are many ways you can protect your children during your divorce. The important thing is for both parents to keep the child’s best interest at the forefront of everything they do.
Creating a parenting plan that works
You can both help your child adjust to the changes when you are respectful and cooperative with each other. Just because your ex wasn’t a great spouse doesn’t mean he or she is not a great parent. Here are a few tips that may help you create and implement a good parenting plan:
- Create a realistic schedule made for your family. Consistency is helpful during a transition, so find something that will work in the long run and stick with it. Consider your child’s age and activities, your own employment obligations and listen when your child expresses his or her feelings. Recognize important dates or holidays that are important to your ex, and ask for the same for you.
- Never speak badly about your ex in front of the kids. Remember that this person is their parent, too, and they love this person. They may feel hurt and conflicted when you say negative things. They may also internalize that negativity as a reflection on them.
- Keep communication open and positive. Today you have many options for communicating. Agree on one that works for you and try to stay positive when talking about the kids. Be supportive when you can.
- Stay flexible. Not everything is worth fighting about. It’s great if you and your ex can put up a common front on rules, education, bedtimes and extracurriculars, for example. But there will be times you disagree on parenting issues. As long as it doesn’t interfere with your own parenting time or affect your child’s health, you may have to give your ex space to parent in his or her own way.
When should you contest a parenting plan?
The worst thing you can do to your child in a divorce is to use them as a weapon or punishment. When you fight your ex’s time with your child, you are also depriving your child of time with a person they love and want to spend time with. There are, however, a few situations when spending time with one parent is not in the child’s best interest for safety reasons. These situations could include:
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Substance abuse
These cases are rare, but painful for the families in this situation.
Research shows that in most situations, your child will do better when they have a strong, loving relationship with both parents. Supporting each other and your child during this process will only help all of you come through the divorce with a stronger and more loving future.