Putting your kids first during a divorce is not as hard as you might think. Co-parenting after divorce is one of the best things you can do for your kids. In fact, it can be the best thing you can do for your kids because it allows them to become part of the solution rather than the problem during this difficult time.
Many moms and dads enter a divorce feeling as if they have been victimized. They blame themselves and the ex-spouse and, in many cases, that is all they think about during the course of the divorce. While putting your kids first does not mean that you are minimizing the damage done during a divorce, it does mean that you will be the one taking responsibility for everything that happens. This includes the decision-making during a divorce, the parenting plan and the final arrangements. You will be the one who are going to deal with the custody issues, which can be very contentious, but you will also be the one who are going to be the primary caregiver of your children, unless your ex-spouse takes a leave of absence.
One way that you can help your kids through a divorce is to create as many alternative routines as possible for their time away from you and from the kids. In fact, by establishing regular routines your kids will become accustomed to and will be less likely to feel left out. This can be especially important for older kids who may feel displaced after the divorce. A weekly sit down with them at their new location can give them a safe place to express their feelings of confusion and grief.
Another way that you can help your kids during a divorce is by providing a number of proven and effective routines for coping with change. One great way of putting your kids first is to offer consistent, reliable routines and rules and allow your kids to follow them. This will help your kids feel secure in their new family arrangement. By providing consistent routines you are actually creating a safe environment for your kids to thrive. Once you establish these patterns of stable and predictable behavior, your kids will find it much easier to move ahead in their own lives without your interference.
Some people find that by offering a variety of helpful, interesting, and creative routines during a divorce they help kids cope with the suddenness of the changes. This approach can be particularly helpful if you and your ex-spouse have a history of fostering flexibility and cooperation. It can also be helpful if you and your ex-spouse have maintained communication during your relationship and if you and your kids have maintained similar relationships outside of the divorce. Of course, this does not mean that you have to replicate your ex-spouse and your spouse’s habits in order to create a safe environment for your kids; it simply means that you should consider different options for creating routines that are in line with the needs and expectations of your kids. This flexibility can also help you and your kids adapt more easily when your kids get a divorce settlement that isn’t really “fair.”
Just remember that everyone has to do what is right for themselves and their kids. If you decide that putting your kids first is something that you feel strongly about, try to remain actively involved in the divorce process so that you can stay actively involved in the co-parenting discussions after the fact. This can help you make sure that your kids receive the best possible divorce settlement possible and can help you prevent some of the more unfortunate aspects of a divorce from being falls on your kids. Remember that in the end, it is all about getting your family together for the future.