No matter how old your child is, divorce will have a major impact on his/her life. Will your child have long lasting consequences? That will depend on how you will end your marriage, how you will build your life after divorce and how you will deal with your ex-partner in front of your children. It is absolutely possible to raise happy and well-rounded children when you are divorced. However, it will take some hard work from both of you, but the results are certainly well worth it.
It is imperative for you to understand that while your marriage is over, your relationship with each other will continue even after your divorce is complete. You are the most important persons in your children’s lives. Even when your children are grown, many significant events will bring you together. Weddings, celebrations, grandchildren, and social gatherings should not be poisoned by a bitter relationship between the divorced couple. Neither, it should be a matter where your children feel an anxiety about you being in the same room together.
Thus, in the process of divorce, one of your most important goals is to create an environment in which the children will feel loved and secure.
Another very important goal of yours is to develop a parenting plan where your children will have regular contact with each of you. Children equally love both parents and become extremely anxious when their parents are arguing in front of them. Therefore, the quantity and quality of the time the children spend with each parent is essential to a healthy post-separation and post-divorce adjustment for them.
A few rules to keep in mind:
- Be patient with your kids
- Allow time for them to adjust to the two new households you created
- Separate your concerns from your children's concerns
- Support and encourage your children's relationship with the other parent
- Be hones with your kids and never allow them to fantasize on your getting back together
- Do not "bad mouth" one another in front of your children
- Assure your children that you will always love them
Try to agree upon a plan for time sharing that is realistic and flexible. It should fit with your schedule and with that of your children, including after school activities, vacations, holidays and other significant events in your lives. Also, consider the fact that children at different ages have different needs and therefore require different parenting plans. One of the advantages of the divorce mediation process is that you can always adjust your parenting plan as your children grow.
An infant requires no more than the meeting of his/her basic needs: feeding, diapering, bathing, and bedtime rituals. Preschoolers spend a significant part of their development during playtime with their parents. For school age children, time spent with their friends is as important as the time spent with their parents and their extra curricular activities can take a lot of your time, resources, and energy. Finally, teenagers will require a totally different approach to parenting. Parenting time for these children as well as activities planned need to be discussed with them. The physiological and psychological changes may affect their behavior tremendously. Make yourself available to them, listen before offering your opinion or ideas and remember that it takes two people to bring a human being to this world and it also takes two people to raise a human being.
Once a parenting plan is developed, try to stick with the schedule, even if it is difficult at first. This will build trust between you and the other parent and it provides stability for the children.