When you go through the divorce process, it can often lead to a disruption in routines. There are many changes everyone will need to adjust to: one spouse moving out, children going back and forth between their parents, and each adult adjusting to living without their former partner, among many other modifications.
Both spouses need to adjust to these changes, and so do children. We all have routines, and when they’re interrupted, we often have difficulty adjusting, especially children. According to the Office of Head Start (OHS), patterns in everyday life can help develop a bond with the individuals they bond with, and children can feel more self-confident.
We all want the best for our children, especially during a challenging time like a divorce. Continue reading to learn how to create consistency for your child after divorce to help keep their self-confidence and sense of belonging on the up and up.
Encourage a Relationship with the Other Parent
Though you may be harboring negative feelings toward your ex-spouse, it’s important not to let those feelings show for your child’s sake. Remember that your divorce was between two adults, not the children. Even if you don’t want to see your ex, it’s crucial to encourage a relationship with the other parent for your child’s sake.
Encouraging a relationship for them could look like this:
- Talking positively about your child’s other parent
- Planning fun activities to do with your co-parent
- Having positive interactions with the other parent in front of your child
- Taking your child to shop for their other parent for a special occasion like a birthday or holiday
It’s important that they feel as bonded to both parents as they did before the divorce to keep their self-confidence going strong.
Choose a Consistent School Drop-off & Pick-up Schedule
Missouri courts often grant both parents physical custody with a parenting plan that includes both of you spending time with your children. Whether you share 50/50 custody or one parent has more time with the kids than the other, unless one parent was deemed unfit by the courts, you’re sharing your time with your children. It can be difficult as children go back and forth between a new home without both parents around.
Choosing a consistent school drop-off and pick-up schedule can help alleviate some of those feelings of confusion. Depending on your parenting plan and what the commute is to and from both houses and the child’s school, create a consistent schedule for drop-off and pick-up. Whether that means one parent does drop-off while the other does pick-up daily, or it’s swapped mid-week, create consistency for your child’s sake. Help them know what to expect for school drop-off and pick-up and keep it that way unless one parent can’t drop off or pick up due to a vacation or illness.
Do Activities with Your Child & Co-Parent
It may not sound like fun to spend time with your ex, but establishing a positive co-parenting relationship will help you both heal from the divorce and have a positive impact on your children. Kids pick up on more than we give them credit for, and they can sense when both parents have hostility toward one another.
Doing things together as a family doesn’t have to be the same as when you were married, nor should it. Simple and periodic activities like having a park date, visiting a museum, and planning parties together, are just some activities to do together as co-parents. Your children will feel a sense of union between you and your co-parent, helping them to adjust to the divorce.
Eat Dinner Together
When you were married, did you, your spouse, and your child(ren) eat dinner together? If so, why disrupt that routine because of a divorce? Keep eating dinner together, just you and your child or children. According to Harvard University, family mealtimes can help lower depression and anxiety in children, things they can and often experience during and after the divorce process.
Even if your schedule only allows it once or twice a week, eat dinner together. Set the table and have your child or children gather around it while you discuss your day and experiences. Keeping this one thing consistent after a divorce can help them feel not much has changed, even when so much has.
Choose a Permanent Location for Custody Exchanges
Custody is a lot for everyone to adjust to. Parents adjust to less time with their children, while children adjust to spending time with one parent without the other. Establish a consistent routine for your child during this transition by choosing a permanent location for custody exchanges.
Whether it be a local restaurant, shopping mall, or one of your homes, keeping the location to exchange the children will help your child feel more confident in knowing and understanding the routine.
Post-divorce can be a tricky time for everyone involved, especially children. By implementing any of the above, your child can feel a sense of consistency in their daily routines as they adjust to life after divorce.
If you’re going through the divorce process, The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC can help. We have over five decades of combined legal experience, helping families in and around Kansas City. We’re dedicated to the practice of family law and can help guide you through any family law matter, keeping your best interests in mind. Our team is skilled in negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward.
Our office is located in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. In addition to our physical location, our firm’s family and divorce attorneys have practiced in Jackson, Clay, Cass, Lafayette, and Platte County, Missouri. Contact our family law firm today to schedule a consultation – we can meet in person or via Zoom.