10 Things All Divorced Parents Should Do Regularly For Their Kids
When I was 5 years old, my parents got divorced. I remember next to nothing about their marriage; instead, all of my childhood memories are split between two homes. While it's hard to write that sentence without it sounding sad, I had a good childhood thanks in large part to my parents' ability to put their differences aside and focus on me. It's only now as an adult, and a parent of a small child of my own, that I realize how remarkable their actions were.
I had two homes, but I didn't feel like I was being divided. There are things all parents can do to make a hard situation like divorce easier for children. I'm not saying it will be easy, but it's certainly worth the effort to have a coparenting situation that benefits everyone. Keep reading for 10 things all divorced parents should do for their kids.
Remind Them It Wasn't Their Fault
Above everything else, make sure your kids know the divorce wasn't their fault. Tell them deliberately, ensuring they know that while your love for your former partner has faded, your love for them will never go away.
This is a big one, since the words we choose to use with one another are so vitally important to how we feel. Be respectful of your ex, and if applicable, their new partner. Like common colds, children pick up everything, so be very careful about what you say to your ex when your kids are around. Make sure they know that just because things ended doesn't mean your ex is bad.
Be United When It Comes to Big Decisions
No one wants to be the mean parent, so make sure all big decisions will be unanimous. This will save you from numerous headaches later, and give your kids a sense of togetherness and a solid family base.
Attend Family Gatherings Together
Birthday parties, graduations, and other events where spouses would go together should be attended as a family. Sit together, smile, and remember why you're there — the kids!
Speak Positively of Your Ex
Quite possibly the hardest task of all, never speak ill of your ex to your children or to others when your children are present. Even if your former partner is a slob who can't get their act together, that's not something your children need to be thinking about. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
Honor Their Time With Your Ex
Your partner deserves to have their time with their children. Do what you can to honor that by being on time with drop-offs, and not taking the children for extended days. Mostly, be excited for your children when they tell you about their time with their other parent.
Realize Your Child Is Not a Bargaining Chip
It can be so easy to fall into this trap. Children should not be something with which you negotiate. Come from a place of love and never bring them into the middle of disagreements.
Listen to Them
Since kids are known for being talkative, they will want to tell you about their time with the other parent. Just listen, comment when necessary, and be an open ear for your child. Don't interrogate them about what your ex is up to.
Make special traditions for your kids in this new world apart from your spouse. It can be something small, like getting donuts every Friday or having a movie night. Besides being something they'll look forward to, you'll also have something to think about during the time when they're not with you.
Embrace the Differences
While most big rules should be the same between houses, it's OK to realize that each house will be a little different, so have fun with that. The children will look forward to both houses for the differences, not how similar you're trying to make it.