By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
All people are innately resistant to change. But it’s especially difficult for children. One of the greatest disruptions in a child’s life is the upheaval caused by divorce. For this reason, it’s especially important for you, as a parent, to do everything you can to help your children adjust. That includes adapting to their new routines and accepting the changes in their lives in the most positive possible ways.
That usually means putting your children’s physical, emotional and psychological needs foremost in your mind and heart. In that way, you will make decisions that are child-centered rather than based on your needs for getting back, proving your points or hurting their other parent.
No doubt it’s not always easy to co-parent after divorce from this perspective. However, it’s the only option that will allow your children to have a safe and sane childhood. It’s the path to raising your children with high self-esteem, joy in their lives and a future that includes healthy relationships for themselves. Isn’t that what we all want for our children?
You can help your children adapt to two happy homes if you make that a priority. And it starts by understanding and respecting that your kids are attached to their other parent. Don’t force your child to break that bond or feel guilty for still loving them, despite your divorce.
With the goal of helping your child feel happy, safe, and loved, you can make co-parenting arrangements work out if that is your honest intention.
Cooperation is crucial for helping your kids feel safe and secure!
All children need to know that they are loved and wanted in both homes. To encourage that important sense of belonging, avoid the need to pack a suitcase when children move between parental homes.
Talk to your children early in the divorce process about starting a new chapter in their family life. Some things are changing – others will not change. It’s all part of the new chapter ahead – and new doesn’t have to mean sad or bad.
Many parents start by taking the kids shopping for some new things so they’ll have their own personal “stash” at both houses. Let each child make some personal selections of bedding, toiletry and clothing items. Little things like new pajamas, underwear, toothbrush, pillow, sunglasses, towels, shampoo, etc. can make a big difference in helping your children feel more at home, welcome and excited about the changes ahead.
A few new toys as well as old familiar ones are also important at this time. Selecting some digital and physical games you can play with them in their new home environment will also help with readjustment, giving the kids something to look forward to when they arrive. If it fits responsibly into your home environment, a new pet can be a big plus on an emotional level.
Keeping the family focus alive!
If your relationship with your former spouse is on a positive level, the family can get together to divide much of the children’s belongings. Let the kids make some decisions about where certain items will remain or move. Try to have enough clothing changes and other routine possessions in each home to avoid last-minute emergency pickups or misplaced items. Also allow the children to carry a few items back and forth if they choose, such as a favorite toy, jacket or photo.
Ideally each child should have some private space – a place in each home where they can keep their things – be it a closet, drawers, shelves, etc. The goal is to create a sense of “home” when they spend time with either parent so they know they are safe, wanted and very much belong in the lives of both parents.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network a Divorce & Parenting Coach and author of How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — With Love! For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right!, her coaching services and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.