Divorce isn’t easy on either spouse, anybody who has been married, or even been in a serious relationship, knows that. But what about teenagers and children? Often the ones most affected by a divorce are the kids who cannot fully understand what it means or why it is happening. The finalization of the divorce is not the end of their worries, either; many mothers and fathers admit that parenting obstacles are amplified after a divorce when they suddenly have to “go it alone”.
If you have recently been divorced or are going through the process right now, you might be wondering how your parenting life has changed. To help yourself through this justifiably confusing time, familiarize yourself with these top practical tips of what to do and what not to do after your divorce.
What You Should Do as a Divorced Parent
- Respect visitation and custody agreements: One of the biggest mistakes a divorced parent can make is thinking it is okay to create their own child custody agreements and visitation schedules as they go. Not only can this land you in legal trouble with the court but it also doesn’t set a good example for your children. By respecting custody agreements, you will show your ex-spouse that you want to cooperate and teach your kids the importance of responsibility.
- Keep putting your kids first: Remember how you always wanted to put your children’s needs before your own when you were married? There’s no reason that should change now. Schedule entertaining events like movie nights, help them with their homework, and just have fun with them as you always have. Putting your kids before yourself obviously helps them but also can take your mind off the divorce and focus it back on parenting.
- Encourage open conversations: Your children are going to have plenty of questions and an array of new emotions generated by your divorce. This is absolutely fine and should be clearly encouraged. If you see them closing up, initiate relevant Q&A sessions about divorce yourself. But remember to be age-appropriate honest – typically only teenagers will want to know, or can benefit from knowing, the full details of why you and your ex separated.
What You Should Not Do as a Divorced Parent
- Child messengers: If you have something else you want to say to your ex that has been brewing in your mind, say it yourself. Do not use your children to be messengers or mediators for your troubles. This is sure to cause them an undue amount of stress and confusion. Even if you have a positive message, you really should be the one to say it, as this once again enforces the lesson that open communication is important.
- Penalization prevention: You and your ex didn’t divorce to punish your children, so be sure not to create the illusion that it was by stopping penalties elsewhere. If your kids know that fighting each other is wrong, use the same penalties you did before. Many parents make the mistake of over-pampering or intentionally spoiling their children to “make up” for the divorce.
- Parental control: Try not to sweat the small things when it comes to how your ex wants to raise your children while they have child custody control. If your child is visiting your ex for the weekend and they want to buy them ice cream, even though you just gave them ice cream the day before, don’t let it get under your skin and try to control your ex’s parenting style. Instead, try to collaborate with one another to avoid such minor conflicts. Only get ready to intervene when their behavior violates a child custody agreement; for example: you have full legal custody, allowing you to make all major life decisions for your children, but your ex-spouse has started preaching a different religion to your children.
If you have more questions about parental rights or divorce in general, you can call 713.568.9294 to connect with the Law Office of Dan Kirby. Houston Divorce Attorney Dan Kirby has more than 20 years of legal experience and is a member of the Texas Association of Mediators, a group dedicated to peacefully resolving conflicts before they escalate to litigation. You can even fill out a free online consultation form to begin seeking answers or counsel now.