There are a plethora of emotions children feel throughout the divorce process. From their parents no longer being a couple to seeing a parent move out and seeing them less, a child has a lot to deal with during the divorce process.
One of the most challenging transitions for a child will be new custody arrangements. Whether you’re recently divorced, regained child custody, separated, or have modified an existing custody arrangement, your child’s world will change as they know it. However, you can make the transition smoother to help them adjust. Keep reading to learn some tips for prepping your child for new custody arrangements.
Listen to Your Child’s Concerns
Remember when you had to tell your child that you were divorcing? They probably had some questions or felt many emotions from sadness to anger and everything in between. Talking to them throughout that process was crucial to their well-being, just like listening to their concerns about new custody arrangements.
You want your child to feel comfortable enough to tell you their true emotions rather than hold them in. Maybe they’re intimidated that they’ll now have two homes. Maybe they’re upset about seeing you less as they split their time between you and your co-parent. Or, perhaps, they’re angry that their world as they know it is changing. Whatever the case, listening to their concerns and talking to them can help guide them through one of the most difficult times in their life.
Set Up a Bedroom for Them at The Other Home
Children can often feel overwhelmed when they all of a sudden have two homes. Their current bedroom is their haven, decorated with their favorite things. They’ve probably had the same bed for a while with the same toys or books they’ve had for years. It’s the one place they can call their own in a home full of other family members. Leaving their safe place to stay in a new place can be very intimidating regardless of age.
To make the transition easier, make sure to have another bedroom set up for them at their other home. Having a bedroom similar to what their current one is can help them feel more at home, thus, more comfortable and more likely to be a peace about the transition. Better yet, get them involved in the process. Have them choose their new bedding and the toys and decorations they’ll get to keep in their new bedroom. Avoiding having them pack a bag each time they transition between homes will help both places feel like home and less of a foreign space.
Be Consistent with Their Schedule
Your child is used to one home with a schedule that probably has some structure for their daily routine. They probably wake up at a certain time, leave the house for school, have some after-school activity or homework time, eat dinner, and go to bed around the same time each day and night. Children of all ages thrive on routine, and it helps them understand what is expected in a given day and even helps them feel in control.
New custody arrangements can throw routines off a little, with transitions from home to home, different and perhaps longer or shorter drives to and from school, and extracurricular activities. Being consistent with their schedule at both homes is a great way to help them adapt to a new custody arrangement. Work with your co-parent when it comes to keeping their routines similar: agree on a similar schedule between both homes that includes the same wake time, dinner time, and bedtime routine so they can be consistent with their schedule.
Keep Transitions Friendly
Seeing your ex may not be ideal depending on your current relationship status. However, it’s often required when transitioning the kids from home to home. Whether custody arrangements are 50/50, less, or more, you’ll need to remain in contact with your ex. Whether you’re harboring feelings of resentment, anger, or sadness, you need to keep transitions friendly for your child’s sake.
Be neutral when it comes to seeing your ex and transitioning your child from home to home. Don’t let your child see your feelings toward your ex; internalize any negative feelings and thoughts no matter how difficult it may be. Keeping transitions friendly will help your kids adjust to new custody arrangements without feeling their parents’ negative emotions. Successful co-parenting is key to a neutral relationship with your ex and keeping the peace for the children’s sake.
New custody arrangements can be hard on a child no matter their age. However, truly listening to their concerns, setting up a bedroom at each home, keeping consistency in their routine, and keeping transitions friendly are some tips for prepping them for new custody arrangements. These tips will help them adjust easier and will make the new arrangement easier for the entire family.
If you are dealing with a child custody issue or a divorce and are looking for a family law attorney in Kansas (in and around the Leawood area) or a family law attorney in Kansas City and the surrounding area. In that case, The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC can help. 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. With over fifty-four years of combined legal experience, our family law firm is a team skilled in negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward.
We have offices in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Leawood, Kansas (consultations by appointment only). In addition to our two physical locations, our firm’s family and divorce attorneys have practiced in Jackson, Clay, Cass, Lafayette, Platte County, Missouri, and Johnson County, Kansas. Contact our family law firm today to schedule a consultation – we can meet in person or face-to-face via Zoom.