If you’ve filed for a divorce, and your children are going to be dividing their time between two households, you may have questions about how you’ll navigate your family through this change. While there’s no set list of instructions for how to co-parent in a shared custody arrangement, there are a few guiding principles that can reduce your children’s stress and help things run smoothly.
Children thrive when there is routine
It would be nearly impossible to navigate divorce without it causing any type of disruption in your children’s lives. Depending on the ages of your children, some may rebound more quickly than others. If you and your ex can work together to maintain a sense of normalcy and routine in your children’s daily lives, they may have an easier time coping with your divorce.
For a shared custody arrangement, this requires careful scheduling and, ideally, parental cooperation. You and your co-parent can craft a written agreement outlining the terms of your own choosing. You can incorporate details regarding custody transfers and other scheduling issues for daily activities in your children’s lives. This makes it easier to develop a new, functional routine – which, in turn, eases the transition for your kids.
Additional ways to help kids cope with divorce
Children are typically resilient and able to adapt to a new family dynamic – especially if you and your co-parent model healthy, supportive behaviors. You and your ex should agree to:
- Always provide your children with easy access to communicate with the other parent
- Try to develop consistency between household rules and discipline
- Seek outside support for problems you don’t feel equipped to handle on your own
- Be flexible when time changes or unexpected circumstances arise
Keep a list of local support resources on hand
There’s no shame in asking for help as you and your kids move into this new chapter of life. Consider reaching out to any of these resources for support:
- Teachers, guidance counselors and coaches
- Faith ministers
- Extended family members
- Trusted friends
- Experienced family law attorneys
- Licensed child psychologists
- Community support groups for families of divorce
When your children see that you’re willing to seek support when a problem arises, they might be more willing to do the same if they have trouble coping with this major life change.