When parents of minor children divorce, it is usually difficult for the children to cope with all of the changes — at least initially. Kids may feel insecure and/or regress to earlier developmental stages as part of their coping mechanisms.
Divorced parents can ease their children’s transition between homes when sharing custody or visitation. The following tips may be useful if your children are struggling to adjust to their “new normal.”
Let each home be an oasis of stability
Your home doesn’t have to mirror your ex’s, but both should have similar rules and expectations for the children. It’s not fair to make one parent always be the disciplinarian and the other parent to have all the fun with the kids.
When your children understand the rules, it allows them to feel secure in both parents’ homes.
Involve the kids in decorating their rooms
It’s exciting for children to share in shopping for bedroom accessories. Older kids might enjoy helping parents paint their rooms and also have a say in the colors of the walls and accents. By making it fun, kids can look forward to spending time in their new room(s).
Include elements from their old rooms
Maybe they had a favorite poster or framed print in their old room. Your son or daughter might feel more at home in a new environment if the familiar token is mounted on the wall of their new room.
Duplicate items when possible
Kids get bogged down traipsing from Mom’s to Dad’s with sports equipment, bathing suits, loveys, books, laptops and other electronic devices. While it might not be possible to have two of everything for each parent’s home, when possible, eliminate the amount of packing that must be done by providing a spare item.
Each child should have a basic wardrobe at each parent’s house. That can eliminate lost shoes and missing jackets that always seem to get lost in transit.
Help young children remember their loveys
Not all items are replaceable, as parents surely learn at 3 a.m. when a 4-year-old is wailing that he can’t sleep without his teddy bear. Kids need help keeping track of these special comfort items, though. Reminding them to pack Teddy or a special “blankie” can mean the difference between a peaceful night’s sleep and a midnight crying jag.
Adjusting to unwanted changes in family dynamics takes time and effort. Be patient and understanding if your kids’ time-table is a little behind the curve you were hoping for. They’ll get there. By being supportive of their feelings you might actually move the process along at a faster clip.
If your child custody arrangements fall short of the mark, you may need to revisit the matter in court by filing for a modification to the existing custody order.