Making this new transition (your divorce) harmonious and amicable will help to protect your child against emotional damage that can easily be inflicted during a divorce. We can become so consumed by our own emotions that our child’s emotional state is overlooked. Always remember that this is a very difficult time for your child, too. Their whole little world has been ripped apart, just as yours has.
Ensuring that the child does not feel abandoned by either parent helps them to remain feeling secure within the family. After all, the child didn’t ask for this, so learning that Mom and Dad don’t want to live together any longer can feel very unfair to them. It’s so important not to expose them to any animosity. If you can master putting any hurt and anger you may feel aside, while your child is around, you’ll find that you have a happier, healthier child.
It’s so important to keep telling your child how much they are loved. Keep showing them plenty of affection, whether they are one month old or 18 years old. During a divorce we can easily become distracted by our own thoughts: Wrapped up with legal phone calls, or emotionally stressed by ongoing arguments with an ex-spouse. We need to remember that even if we aren’t feeling loved, our children constantly need to be loved and reassured that everything is going to be fine. It’s very likely that there are a lot of questions going around in their head that they probably aren’t asking, or if they’re still very young, then there are probably questions that are too difficult for them to even construct and verbalise.
Always look to strengthen yourself as a parent. Never let your divorce affect the parent that you are. Keep investing love, positive energy and time into your child because it will be the best investment you’ll ever make.
When you and your partner finally decide to separate, it is advisable to put the parenting plan in place as soon as possible. The sooner everybody can start getting used to the new routine, the better for the child/ children. The parenting plan will state which days and nights the children will spend with each parent. How much time the child spends with each parent usually depends on a number of factors. The primary carer is the person who is mainly responsible for the child (the parent who spends the most time with the child). Whether the mother or the father is the primary carer will depend on your personal situation. Something to remember is that while a divorce or separation is ongoing, both parents remain the holders of full parental responsibilities and rights when it comes to the child. Approach the parenting plan from a sensible place. Immediately dividing the child in two and making him/her travel back and forth between 2 homes can be hugely stressful for a child and simply isn’t fair. Give them time to adjust.
Here is a standard guideline for the parent, who is not the primary carer, to follow. It shows how much time away, from the primary parent, the child should be able to cope with. This guideline may not suit your situation. In each divorce, the circumstances will differ. This guideline is based on what I’ve researched and what has already been documented on the net and in divorce books that I’ve read. It is a guideline that is proving a good plan for a lot of divorced families that I have spoken to. I believe that this plan will result in the child having an active, healthy relationship with both Mom and Dad.
1 overnight = 24 hour contact
1 visit = 4 hour contact
Wkend = 2 consecutive nights
I researched this a lot and spoke to a lot of different child psychologists and professionals , (some, that were great and some that should have their right to practise, taken away) they had a number of different views on a parent plan. Their level of emphases and of concern on child separation anxiety, this new generation of suitcase-kids (constantly going back and forth to either parents home) and certain parenting plans interfering with the child/parent bond, varied. I found it frustrating that there was such conflict when it came to what the child psychologists/professionals suggested, (always bearing in mind that their recommendations may be taken straight out of a book and not necessarily from personal experience) that, as opposed to what divorced parents that I have spoken to believed was best for their child. Hence now why I am a firm believer in sorting out the parenting plan yourselves. One thing that every parent should be in agreement with is that the parenting plan must be personalised and tailored, for each child/children. Perhaps experiment a little (but not for too long) in the beginning with different parenting plans, until you find one that suits your child/children.
If you can put your own emotions and wants aside, stop to think what will ensure that the child’s routine is not disturbed too much, then you will eventually come up with a plan that will be in the child’s best interest.
Its easier to build strong children than to repair broken men – Frederick Douglass
This quote is everything to remember when it comes to your child and what you are exposing him/her to, while you’re going through a divorce.