Transitions between their parents’ homes can be rough on kids after a divorce. Every time they go from one home to the other, they’re not only saying goodbye to one parent, but they’re leaving part of their life behind – particularly when they transition from the home where the spend most of their time.
Kids show their fears, anxieties and unhappiness in different ways depending on their ages and personalities. Young children may cry hysterically or have temper tantrums. Older kids may become sullen and uncommunicative.
While you can’t control your kids’ emotions, you and your co-parent can do a lot to make these parenting time transitions easier. Let’s look at a few basic things.
Have a schedule and adhere to it
Even if you haven’t finalized your custody agreement, you can establish a parenting time schedule. Make sure the kids know what it is. This will give them some structure and predictability.
Don’t change it unless it’s absolutely necessary. Then, make sure you tell them about the change as soon as possible and explain that it’s only a one-time or temporary change.
Don’t make your kids have to pack too much
Nothing makes a child feel like a visitor like having to pack a bag whenever they move from home to home. You probably can’t afford duplicates of everything, but having clothes, toiletries and some books, games and toys at each home will lessen the amount they (and you) have to pack and unpack. This way, they’ll mostly have to worry about bringing school books, electronics they can’t live without and a favorite stuffed animal or doll.
Remain amicable with your co-parent during the transitions
Nothing makes kids dread parenting time transitions more than knowing that their parents will end up arguing or glaring at each other in stony silence. If you’re still finding it difficult to be friendly with your co-parent, have everything ready to hand your child off so you minimize your interaction to a minute or two (or less). You can settle whatever issues you have another time when the kids aren’t there.
As you work out your custody agreement and parenting plan, you can establish a schedule that works for everyone and that your kids can plan on. Like anything, they’ll adjust to it over time if you and your co-parent model cooperation and civility for them.