One of the biggest challenges for many divorced co-parents who are sharing custody of their children is maintaining a positive attitude about your kids’ time with their other parent. However, that’s crucial to helping them adjust to spending time with the parents separately and across two homes. No matter how you feel about your co-parent, it’s essential to your children’s well-being to encourage a good relationship with them.
One way to ease your children’s anxiety about the custody arrangement is to have a clear schedule and to stick to it. It’s often helpful for both parents to print out a copy of the schedule and have it in both houses where kids can see it. You may want to let them have a role in decorating the schedule or adding their own artwork to it. If you have older kids with their own electronic devices, you may want to let them have access to their schedule online. This can help them as they plan their extracurricular and social activities.
Encourage your kids to express their joy and anticipation about seeing their other parent. They should also feel free to tell you about the things they do while they’re with their other parent. If they’re afraid that doing so will only make you hurt and angry, they won’t. That means you’ll be missing out on a significant portion of your kids’ lives.
Parents should also encourage contact outside of the designated custody or visitation time. Kids should be allowed to call, text and video chat with the parent they aren’t with at the moment. If something happens in their life — good or bad — that they don’t want to wait to tell their other parent about, they should feel free to contact them.
Having a parenting plan in place that adds detail to your custody and visitation schedule can help minimize confusion and conflict as your kids move between homes. Your family law attorney can help you as you negotiate a schedule and parenting plan with your co-parent that focuses on your children’s well-being.