Make a family calendar and hang it wherever the children will see it, to show that you care. Make your children see that their lives are important to you and that they are your priority.
On the family calendar, list:
- school schedules
- other dates, such as dental appointments, dance recitals, sports games, and so on.
Establish rules such as the following:
- Each parent must order his or her own tickets for children’s events.
- Each parent must make his or her own arrangements at school to get information.
- It is not up to your former spouse to do those things or provide information for you.
- It’s up to you to take the initiative.
- Don’t make your son or daughter into the man or woman of the house.
- Don’t turn your son or daughter into your best friend and confidant.
- Don’t fill the void in your bed by allowing your child to sleep there. If you eventually start a relationship and no longer allow your child into your bed because you are sharing it with someone else, the child could feel displaced.
If you are the noncustodial parent, here are some ideas to help you maintain a positive relationship with your children:
- Some schools allow children to leave the grounds for lunch; you may be able to take them out to lunch without affecting the custodial parent’s time. (Generally speaking, permission might be needed if it is a sole custody arrangement and the non-custodial parent wishes to exercise access.)
- As much as you can, duplicate at your home the little things that your kids love at the custodial parent’s home–things like special Barbie dolls, books, and so on. Send out the message that you care. Duplicating items will remove the stress children may feel about taking their favorite things to the other parent’s home or about forgetting to bring them (but keep in mind that some items, like the favorite blanket or stuffed animal, can’t be duplicated).
Here are some ideas on how to maintain connections with teenagers:
- Check in with your kids via their cell phones and e-mail accounts to just to say, “What’s up?”; “How was your day?”; and so forth. Checking in helps ensure that you have as much input with your kids as their friends do.
- Be flexible; be an open door. Invite kids over either after school or for a few hours on the weekend, or just to have dinner, rather than for the full evening or weekend. You can say, “You are welcome the entire weekend, but I won’t be upset if you want to be with your friends; you tell me if it fits in. If not, and you want to be with your friends, I’ll drive you.” If you pressure your kids to give up time with their friends in order to be with you, it will only backfire, causing your children to avoid you.
- If there are big differences in ages between siblings, plan one-on-one time with each child.
Source: The Smart Divorce: Proven Strategies and Valuable Advice from 100 top Divorce Lawyers, Financial Advisers, Counselors, and Other Experts (Chicago Review Press, 2007)
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