Navigating a divorce with your ex is never going to be an easy ride, and the associated challenges are amplified massively if you have a child that’s getting caught up in it all, too.
If you and your child’s other parent have decided to separate, the matter of parenting your child is going to be a matter that needs to be re-determined during this challenging time. However, this process isn’t going to be a quick one to finalise – it could take weeks, or even months before you and your ex finally put the terms of your divorce into place.
Once a divorce has been settled, you and your ex can work together to establish a finalised co-parenting plan with terms and fixed details that you can both adhere to. However, the matter of co-parenting while you are going through the process of a divorce is one which is, inevitably, less concrete, so it becomes less obvious what you should each be doing on a day-to-day basis.
In this blog post, we aspire to provide any readers who may currently be going through a separation with some useful advice, to help you both to effectively work together to continue to support and nurture your child, even amidst all of this emotional and legal turbulence.
There’s bound to be a lot of legal talk going back and forth between you and your ex. As you both go about outlining the terms of your divorce, these formal topics are bound to be the focus of your conversations for the majority of the time. However, it is vital that you keep your child shielded from these discussions.
Your child should never be put in a position where they can overhear their parents discussing (or arguing about) how their separation is going to take place. It would put them in a stressful, unhappy position, that leaves them feeling torn between you both.
The ideal position that you should always be striving for is reassuring your child that they can continue to have a relationship with both of their parents, regardless of what is happening between you and your ex.
In and amongst all of the turmoil of your separation it is, naturally, easy for you to forget the position that your child is in, and forget that they aren’t actually aware of the fact that their two parents are currently fighting about a particular financial discrepancy.
So while, yes, it’s important that your child knows that they can talk to you, and that you have helped explain to them what is happening, this should only take place in a strictly child-friendly way.
You have just informed your child about a huge disruption to their life, and this level of instability is bound to make them feel stressed and anxious. So, try to mitigate these feelings – you can effectively balance out the impact that the divorce will have on them, by providing them with as much stability and predictability as possible in other areas of their life.
This can be achieved by quickly putting a predictable, dependable custody arrangement in place, so your child knows who they’re going to be with, where they’ll be staying and when. This way, your child can at least go some way towards familiarising themselves with a new routine.
You can further help to eliminate as much unknown in your child’s life as possible, by putting any negative feelings that you have of each other aside, and working together to prioritise your child’s needs. An essential component of this is quickly putting together (at least a drafted version of) a parenting plan. By creating this plan as soon as action, you can govern your co-parenting practices, and provide your child with concrete answers to many of their inevitable questions.
Alongside these points, other things that you can do to ensure that your child is immersed with in a stable, comforting home environment include:
Remember, your child absolutely has a right to a relationship with both of their parents. There’s a lot that you can do to make them feel as confident as possible in the relationship that they have with their parents.
Below, we’ve created a few guidelines to help you ensure that your behaviour is supportive of your child, during this difficult period:
It sounds obvious, but it’s definitely worth reiterating. Give your child all of the love, support and reassurance that they could possibly need.
While your divorce is taking place, ensure that your child knows how much they matter and are loved by the both of you. Ensure that they feel secure, and any stress that they feel is minimised by the knowledge that they can come and speak to either of you, whenever they need.
While it will have its drawbacks from yours and your ex’s perspective, co-parenting while your divorce is happening is absolutely worth your efforts. It will ensure that your child knows that both of their parents will continue to play a role in their life – no matter what is happening between them, your child can count on the fact that you will always be there for them.
Even though you might feel like this initial phase of bringing about the divorce is only for the short term, if you neglect to consider your child’s feelings, the repercussions can last a lifetime. So, by ensuring you co-parenting in a loving and thoughtful way while you establish the terms of your separation, you are ensuring that your child will adjust to this transition in the healthiest, most seamless way possible.
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