How to Establish a Healthy Family Dynamic After a Divorce
A divorce brings about many changes, but for many divorcing couples, one of the most significant is the upset that it causes within the family unit. Facing the divorce of their parents can be difficult for a child of any age, but when a divorcing couple is still in the process of raising children under 18, the situation can be especially tricky.
Though a divorce means the end of a marriage, it doesn’t mean the end of a family. Getting used to a new normal may take some time for both parents and children, but some families see an even greater level of functionality in the family unit after a divorce. If you and your spouse have made the decision to divorce, here are some ways to create a healthy and positive environment for everyone in your family as you adjust to the changes.
Make sure your children feel heard. Divorces can be messy and complicated, and you may feel like you’re in over your head with paperwork, financial strain, and meetings with your attorney. However, during a divorce, it’s more important than ever to make time for your children. Explain the situation as much as you feel is appropriate and give your children the chance to speak their minds and express their feelings.
Keep communication open with your former spouse. Depending on the circumstances, you may not be on great terms with your now ex. Though it may be a challenge, keeping an open line of communication between the two of you can help ease the tension of a shifting family dynamic while preventing any uncomfortable schedule slipups. Healthy communication will also set a good example for your children and make them feel more at ease during the divorce process.
Follow the set agreement. During your divorce proceedings, you and your former spouse will be making decisions with your attorney concerning your co-parenting arrangement moving forward. Whatever agreement you come to, make sure that you and your ex stick to the agreement completely; breaking the terms of your divorce doesn’t only have legal ramifications, it causes emotional turmoil and confusion for your children as well. If the schedule you chose ends up causing issues for you or your children, make sure to speak openly with your ex and come to a new agreement that works for everyone before making any changes.
Take it slow. In the aftermath of a divorce, it may take a while for you to feel comfortable attending events or spending an extended amount of time with your former spouse. If you know that too much interaction between you will be uncomfortable or even hostile, don’t force it; your interactions could make your kids feel tense and uncomfortable as well. However, working to regain a polite and even friendly relationship with your ex over time can help to rebuild the sense of family bond that may have been damaged by your divorce. The more you and your ex are able to co-parent alongside one another as opposed to parenting as separate entities, the more comfortable and supported your children will feel.
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