How do you create healthy habits for your children in two households?
First, it’s important to know that when parents divorce, Connecticut law presumes joint custody is in the child’s best interest – if both spouses agree. While this allows your kids to have both parents care for them and participate in their upbringing, it may inherently require them to split their time between two different households.
Making the switch from one home to two will require some adjusting at first, but when you and your spouse observe similar rules and routines, your children will quickly adapt to their new situation and begin to thrive.
Here are some tips that can help make the process easier for children and parents alike.
Let Them Know What to Expect
Young children need extra TLC when it comes to coping with change. You can make them feel secure by establishing a schedule they can understand and anticipate. You and your former spouse can post identical calendars with information about where the kids will be on any given day so they can look forward to their time with you.
Ensure that Each Home Has What They Need
Your children should never feel like visitors, so always have necessities (e.g., toothbrush, comb), clothing, school supplies, and favorite toys or electronics in both homes. Even if the kids are under one parent’s roof more than the other, ensure they have everything they need to feel completely at home in both.
Respect Your Former Spouse’s Household
You may not agree with everything about your former spouse’s home and lifestyle. Resist the impulse to comment. If you must express your concerns, approach your former spouse directly and don’t involve the kids.
Present a United Front
Children understand more than they may initially let on, so both parents must present a united front on all parenting decisions. Your kids should never think they can use one parent against the other, so stand firm if they ask to do something that your former spouse has reasonably refused. Even if they don’t try it, unilateral decision-making can cause confusion and anxiety, so create consistency by communicating with your former spouse regarding important decisions.
Meet With the Other Parent Regularly
If you and your former spouse are on amicable terms, schedule monthly meetings to address matters such as schedule changes, academic performance, your children’s social life, and behavioral concerns. Confine the topic of each conversation to the children: your personal lives are off-limits unless some aspect raises concerns about their well-being. If your divorce was acrimonious and personal meetings are sure to end in conflict, use text, email, or other tools like Our Family Wizard instead.
At Freed Marcroft, we firmly believe that maintaining a stable and healthy relationship with both parents creates the best possible outcome for a child after divorce. We can help you negotiate a custody agreement that maximizes your presence in their lives and makes it easier for them to adjust to their new situation. To speak to a team member today, START HERE.