The transition to single parenting after divorce is not easy. You want to be there for your kids, to help them thrive and succeed, but are likely uncertain of what it will take to get there. Fortunately, you are not alone. We now have decades of studies and case samples, research, and analysis to look into to figure out what works and what does not to help our kids be healthy and happy after a divorce. Although the exact approach will vary for each household, some general tips that apply to most everyone in this situation are discussed below.
Time is our most important commodity. Our children need us to carve out time to hang out, talk, go for a walk to a park or just watch a show together. That time spent together works to build our relationship and establish trust. That bond will make it more likely they come to us when they need to talk.
When the do need to talk, listen. Let them vent and voice their frustrations about the current situation. They should feel safe telling you their fears and concerns. Child psychology experts remind us of the importance of telling the children the divorce was not their fault. It is also important when navigating these conversations to speak respectfully of your ex — after all, your ex is still their parent.
It is helpful to keep the children’s schedules as consistent to the pre-divorce calendar as possible. If they were involved in baseball, soccer, band, or theater before the divorce, try to keep these activities going after the divorce.
It is also important for parents who are sharing custody to have some level of consistency in their home lives. Although each household will have its own style, it is important to have some uniformity between the two parents’ homes. This could be a requirement that the children complete their homework before watching television or a shared expectation that older children do not take their smartphones to their bedrooms. Whatever the expectations, do your best to stick with them.
#4: Bonus: Take time for you.
You are better able to help your children thrive when you tend to your own mental health. Find a confidant, maybe a family member, friend, or a professional counselor, that you can speak with to vent or voice your own frustrations. Take time to do the things you enjoy.
It will take some effort to move forward after the divorce, but proactive steps like those listed above can help to better ensure you achieve a successful and happy post-divorce life.