It is not easier for children just because divorced parents and blended families are more common today. It is still traumatic to experience a divorce even when a child has numerous friends with parents living apart. It is the responsibility of the parents to take their children's fears and frustrations seriously and make the situation easier for them to manage.
Keep Life Consistent
Children thrive on consistent rules, family traditions and stable schedules. Parents should work together to maintain a similar bedtime, house rules and expectations in each home. It is confusing to children, especially when they are younger, to have the rules different with each parent. That confusion could eventually lead to anger and behavioral problems in both of their homes.
Give Them Space
Every person needs privacy and some space of their own. They should have this in both homes even if the child is with one parent only on alternating weekends and holidays. Obviously, parents cannot always afford to have a place large enough to keep one room empty and waiting for them. Something as simple as a locked trunk of their own where they can leave a favorite teddy bear, set of pajamas, and toys will help.
Stop Forcing Relationships
Children will not instantly like a new stepparent or romantic partner. Some will take offense at being expected to refer to their step grandparents by names they use for their biological family. Step siblings rarely become best friends instantly. It takes time to learn about people and feel comfortable around them. It is not uncommon for parents to attempt to push relationships on their children. It is usually a well-meaning attempt at making the new partner feel welcomed, but to the children it can imply that parents, grandparents and siblings are easily replaced. That can leave them feeling vulnerable and at-risk of being replaced as well.
Maintain Some Dignity
What makes the experience of divorce the hardest for any child is witnessing the abuse that their parents hurl at each other. This is especially true when parents begin dating others. The small slights and insults directed at each other and the new partners stay with children and begin to influence how they feel about the adults in their life. It can undermine authority or make children view step-parents negatively when they hear their other parent speak in demeaning terms about them.
It is difficult for anyone to work patiently and fairly with a future ex-spouse during a divorce, but this is the perfect time to create a contract regarding the upbringing of any children. Custody agreements need to include more than dividing time and splitting the expenses. It should include discussions on religious teachings, basic rules like when they should date or what bedtime is best, and future education plans. Parents do not need to like each other to do what is best for the child they love. For more information, talk to a professional like Kenneth J. Molnar Attorney.