It seems there are more shared-parenting plans than parents that raise the kids together these days. While it’s common for kids of today to be shuttled between mom and dad’s separate homes, it’s still hard on them, especially when mom and dad are still fighting. It doesn’t have to be that way and you can make the transition easier on the children.
One thing we divorcees need to remember is that it isn’t about us anymore. We severed our relationship with our spouses, for whatever reason, and we now need to focus on the child’s relationship with BOTH parents. It no longer matters who did what to whom, who cheated, who lied. That’s what the divorce was for. Too often I see parents using children to get something from the other parent; whether it be an attempt to continue the relationship or just to make them as miserable as possible. It doesn’t matter the reason, it’s wrong and it’s selfish. If you hate the other parent so much you can say their name without gagging or swearing, don’t say their name. Simple as that. If you can’t be decent in front of your kids when talking about the other parent, don’t talk about them. When your child says “Mommy took us to dinner with her new friend John”, just smile, say “That’s nice, sweety” and change the subject. Divorced parents need to put their personal problems down and shelter the children from any further unpleasantness.
Treat the arrangement, whatever it may be, as any business relationship. Remember, you don’t have to act as if it’s personal. Feelings and actions are two separate things. If there is a custody agreement, try to stick to it as much as possible and avoid continuous changes. Constant changes means continuous communication with the person you divorced… this usually doesn’t work out well. Avoiding the continued need to talk (or email, or text….) can greatly cut back on the need to argue.
Don’t put your ex down in front of your children. I’ve heard everything from parents telling their kids their father is trash or their mother is a tramp all the way down to the manipulate little tricks like saying “I wish I could take you to the movie honey but Daddy doesn’t help me much and I don’t have the money”. You know what you’re doing if you say things like that or even if you let others cut them down in front of the kids. Stop. Trying to hurt your ex through your child means you have to hurt your child first. No matter what you think of your children’s other parent, your child identifies themselves through being a part of that person. They feel connected to both of you, so by putting the other parent down you are, without exception, putting a part of your child down. I’m certain that adults can find something decent to say.
Don’t play the victim to your kids. Too often parents will cry or mope to their kids about the sad situation mommy or daddy put them in. This isn’t helpful. Kids can cope with these transitions when mom and dad are okay. The more we convince our kids the divorce or separation is terrible and horrible and life is over, the more afraid and upset they will be. Instead of being an alarmist, be the security your child really needs. Let them know that things are okay, just different. Let them know that it’s just a change and not the end of the world.
You can make the best out of any situation with children. It’s not difficult because they react off of their parents. Do all you can do to make it easier on them. They didn’t ask to be your kids, you asked for them.