In this last article of our four-part series, we tackle the challenges of adjusting to the new lifestyle that comes after a divorce while doing your best to be a parents.
Adjusting to the new living situation
Divorce will be a big change to everyone in the family, so you should make sure there is a smooth transition as much as possible. Adjusting to a new living arrangement should be gradual, such that it doesn’t come as too much of a shock to your children. There are several types of living situations to consider, including:
- One parent having sole custody
- Both parents having shared legal and physical custody
- Joint custody in which one parent has a ‘tie-breaker’ role in certain decision such as medical or educational arrangements
Deciding which one is right for your kids will not be easy, but you have to remember to work as a team for the sake of your children. Although some children may be used to spending most of their time with one parent in comparison with the other, most children need the stability and comfort of having one home, and visiting the other parent frequently. In some cases, both parents may choose to continue living in the same house but this should generally be avoided, although it does work with a small percentage of divorced parents.
Whatever you decide, your children’s needs must come first, and their feelings must be considered when adjusting to a new lifestyle. Whether you are making decisions for Birthday parties, holiday seasons or vacations, make sure you consider is best for your children first. While you should make the effort to hear about your children’s feelings, it is important that you make the final decisions yourselves and do not ask your children to choose.
You must be prepared for any child to try to ‘take sides’. If this happens, do not take it personally, as hard as this may be. Keep to the agreed schedule when adjusting to the new lifestyle so that your children will know that this is what they have to get used to.
Being a Parent Under Pressure
Remember that you are both still parents. Routines and discipline strategies stay the same, so do not make adjustments to bedtimes, rules or study schedules, especially with the younger ones. Although you may not be able to enforce rules in your ex’s home, make sure you do in your home.
A divorce is a major crises for everyone in the family, but if you both work together as parents and be civil about things, adjusting to the new lifestyle can be easier to handle that you might expect.
- Get professional help to deal with your own painful feelings. Your children will adjust better if you show them how.
- Be patient with your child and with yourself. Remember that everyone needs time to heal.
- Look out for signs of stress. Consult everyone in your child’s lives, including teachers, doctors, or a therapist for guidance
If you and your spouse or children need help getting through this tough time, contact Touch Community Services for support.