After parents get divorced, it’s common for them to see their kids suffer. They may become anxious or depressed. They may have trouble concentrating. Their behaviors may even regress. But the good news is that most kids can recover and enjoy healthy, happy lives.
It takes some time—often one to two years—but research shows that 80% of children will get completely back to speed. They’ll process their grief and move on, just as you hope to. However, the same research that shows your kids can recover also shows that there are important steps you and your ex can take to help them out.
Co-parenting is all about the children
Divorce is more complicated for parents. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, you might prefer never to see your ex again. But as a parent, you may be stuck in a relationship that can run for years after you’ve legally uncoupled.
If it’s hard for you to work with your ex, it may help to remember that you’re doing it for your kids. And it may also help to focus on these five key co-parenting concerns:
- Clear communication. Parents often find that it helps to keep their communication business-like. As co-parents, you’re partners even if you’re no longer a couple. You want to listen and be respectful, but you also want to be clear and direct.
- Consistent standards. If you and your ex establish consistent standards and routines, including meals and bedtimes, you can ease your child’s confusion and anxiety. This leads to better behavior and a faster rebound.
- Respect for the other parent. Most parents know they shouldn’t bad-mouth their ex-spouses in front of their children, but this is easier said than done. You need to be mindful of your reactions. Find other ways to vent your frustrations.
- Positive transitions. Children often voice their worries when it’s time to leave one parent’s home for the other, but it’s important to make these transitions positive. Prepare your child by talking about the transition in advance. Be sympathetic but encouraging.
- A healthy you. Children do best after divorce when they continue to have time with both parents, provided two things: They’re not dragged into heated conflicts, and both parents are stable.
Doing these things for your child can make a huge difference. High-conflict divorces have negative effects on children’s emotional and academic growth, as well as their relationships with their parents. Every step you take to reduce conflict may improve your child’s outcome.
What about your parenting plan?
Parenting plans are supposed to work for the children. When circumstances change, you and your ex may want to consider changing your parenting plan, as well.