How you act after divorce has a significant influence on the emotional adjustment of your children. After 16 years of helping Oregon parents during and after divorce, I have seen divorced parents behave in ways both helpful and harmful to the kids. The following short list are ideas on how to have healthy contact between both parents and the children in your restructured family.
- Put your child’s welfare first. Put meeting your kid’s emotional needs first over yours. Make sure that, as much as possible, they have an opportunity to develop normally under the circumstances.
- It takes two to parent. Absent unusual circumstances, contact with both parents is necessary and beneficial to your child’s emotional development and welfare.
- Be supportive of the other parent with your kids. Time spent with your children should be pleasant for the children, and for both parents. You should help your children maintain a positive relationship with each parent. Don’t act in a way when you have the children that would damage the other parent’s relationship with them.
- Be consistent and communicate. Keep to your schedule and inform the other parent when you cannot keep an appointment. The children may view the failure to keep a commitment to be with them as rejection.
- Be flexible. Despite of what I said in #4 above, you may need to adjust the scheduled time with your children occasionally according to their age, health, and interests.
These guidelines won’t solve every problem that arises, but if more parents followed them, family law lawyers would have less work. In the event of a disagreement with the other parent, thinking about this list before you act will likely help your kids.