Part 1 of this series focused on how to create stability in your life when going through a disruptive time such as divorce. In Part 2, we will focus on some concrete things you can do to create structure in your kids’ lives even if you are not in a secure place yourself.
When going through a divorce, so many things are abnormal:
- The house,
- The finances,
- The living situation,
- The kids’ schedules.
How can you create structure for your kids that will start giving them that sense of stability and security?
The more predictable and consistent their schedule, the more safe they will feel. It will foster a sense of trust in you and their other parent, particularly if you are starting to implement a shared parenting schedule.
Things to try:
Start by under promising. At a time when we may want to overcompensate, it’s better to resist that urge, and be disciplined in what you commit to. Far better for the children to have a few promises they can rely on than many they cannot. Choose a couple of things that you stick to and that they can count on, no matter what. If you are not able to do a lot of things you used to do because they are money dependent, you might just start a couple of non-money dependent activities. These new “traditions” can be quite simple. Depending upon the age of the kids, you may read one story before bed, or talk about what they hope to dream about for a few minutes at bedtime. Develop a set of customs that can be practiced in both households such as:
- Bedtime is 9 o’clock.
- Each parent reads a story at bedtime (maybe from the same series).
- Wednesday nights are spaghetti night.
- Weekly trip to the library to choose books for bedtime, movies to watch together.
Things that are organizing for kids are going to be organizing for the adult structure, too, and can start helping the parents create a unified family culture that spans the two households. Wednesday night is spaghetti night – both at Mom’s and Dad’s. These events can not only be helpful with co-parenting, but can create a consistency between households, reinforcing the safety of a familial structure and helping the children experience the parents as a unit. Adjusting to the new living and custody arrangement will be helped by the family community continuing to meet the children’s fundamental needs for structure and reliability.
What have you found to be the most stabilizing and useful things for your kids and for yourself during a time of great upheaval and transition like divorce?