A broken marriage never occurs suddenly, and many couples use their kids as an excuse to postpone the inevitable of filing for a divorce. However, kids are resilient. Chances are, your children know there’s trouble in paradise long before you mention the D word.
And while parental divorce can be a negative blow to children if handled incorrectly, parents who focus on the needs of their children and create a successful shared parenting plan beyond divorce can actually protect their children and help them become stronger adults in the long run.
Nationwide divorce rates tend to spike in March and August, so summer break can pose a challenge for parents and kids alike. Fortunately, there are some simple tips to help get the most of shared parenting time after a divorce.
Listen to Your Kids and Accept Their Input
Post-divorce summer sharing can be tough on kids. While each parent may want and expect their sharing needs to be met without hassle, the kids may have other ideas. So listen to them. Friends and pre-planned activities are just as important to them as your plans are to you.
They may also have different ideas for family vacations or activities. If they’re reasonable and can fit the budget, consider implementing some of their ideas so everyone can be happy.
Don’t leave your summer family sharing plans to chance or assume your ex has all the answers. Work out a plan together that considers work needs, holidays, and individual household vacation expectations. Even if those concepts aren’t set in stone yet, start early and get some ideas together so the summer season runs smoothly for everyone involved.
Share Schedules and Costs
A sudden household division is tough enough on kids, but trouble is amplified when structure is lost due to parental confusion or aloofness. Both parents need to know the last day of school, dates of any sports matches or important ongoing activities, and work schedules to ensure a smoother visiting or shared custodial exchange.
Even if you’ve discussed summer holidays, birthdays, and important events before, revisit those to make sure you’re still on the same page. Discuss sharing costs for summer activity supplies and outing expenses for the kids. Even splitting some costs can go a long way towards limiting household stress.
Be Patient and Flexible
Schedules change and even the best-laid plans can go awry. Don’t internalize, play the blame game, or engage in the woozle effect. Your kids don’t need the extra stress or to feel pulled apart. Instead, adopt some patience and try to be flexible.
Instead of insisting all plans are set in stone, be open to unexpected or even last-minute changes. Instead of getting angry and flustered, have some backup plans and/or childcare options available just in case they’re needed.
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
Divorce closes the door on a marriage, but the family unit can continue with the right planning, effort, and intention. Don’t use your kids as a way to get back at your ex or prove you’re suddenly the “hero”. Your kids need stability and consistency over spoilage.
So avoid the glitz and fireworks and opt for quality over quantity. Choose activities, vacations, and outings that will build interest, pique their curiosity, and create positive memories instead of buying their affection. When done correctly, shared parenting can be the best option for all involved. If you need more suggestions or options, your Michigan divorce lawyer is just a call away.