Resolutions to Try to Keep as a Newly Divorced Parent

 

divorcedYou are a newly divorced parent and managed to survive the holidays.  Now it is one month into the New Year and it seems like there are a whole new set of obstacles ahead. The magic of the holidays is over, the kids are back in school, homework needs to be checked, deadlines at work need to be met, and maintaining civility with your former spouse has been a challenge.

If the divorce did not go as smoothly as either one of you hoped, now is a good time to sit down and think about what it is you want to accomplish and how to handle the challenges you are facing. As co-parents, it is imperative to create the healthiest environment for your children, especially during family transitions. The following are a few helpful tips on how to create some post-divorce resolutions and stick to them:

  • Make it your goal to speak respectfully with your former spouse even when your children are not present. This will help to create a healthy habit for communicating while co-parenting. If you always assume your children are aware of the words you are exchanging with your former spouse and the emotions you are experiencing, you will not only prevent unintentional exposure to name-calling and other undesirable communications, but also you will set an example for your children to follow.
  • Remain open-minded about scheduling time with your children. If something comes up and needs to be changed, make an effort to remain calm and civil about the situation, especially in front of the children.
  • Give your children credit where it is deserved. If they live with and maintain relationships with a step-parent or siblings, make sure to remind them how loved and important they are to you and your former spouse.
  • Counseling is never a bad idea. It is common for people to struggle with emotions and relationships during and following family transitions and often the help of professional counselor or social worker can help work through such issues.  Children are very perceptive and may pick up on tensions or emotions and counseling may help better equip you for moving forward in a healthier way.
  • Do not talk badly about your former spouse in front of your children. This can lead to confusion for the child, a lack of trust of both parents, and feeling like he or she needs to choose a side.
  • Remain open-minded and listen to your children when they express feelings about the divorce or separation. They are entitled to opinions and expressing their feelings is healthy.
  • No matter how upset, sad, or stressed you are, it is important that you continue to put your children’s needs before your own. There will be days where this will seem near impossible and that’s okay– just keep pushing forward. Whether they show it or not, your children will be thankful.
  • If you are moving to a new home, keep in mind the time your children will be spending with their other parent. Living within a short distance may be easier on everyone.
  • Keep your children’s teachers up to speed with what is happening outside of school. The teachers don’t need to know every last detail of the divorce, but can certainly be more helpful inside the classroom if they are aware of what your children are going through at home.
  • After you are done putting your children’s needs ahead of your own, make sure you are finding things to do that you enjoy. Whether it is picking up a new hobby, meeting with friends more often, treating yourself to a day of relaxation, or simply having some quiet time to yourself–you deserve it.

Family transitions are never easy and can be quite difficult on every member of the family. Keeping a few of these tips in mind may help to keep you and your children healthy and happy.

 

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Divorce and the Holidays-Helping Children Stay in the Spirit

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The holidays are upon us and for most it is a joyful time of year filled with love and traditions. However, many parents and children may be new to navigating through family changes and holidays after divorce or separation. Some newly divorced or separated families are able to maintain great relationships with one another and keep family traditions going, while others struggle to get in the holiday spirit. Regardless of the situation, it is always important to create a sense of normalcy for the children that are involved.

Children can be creatures of habit, so when it comes to the holidays, they are more than likely used to the same routine every year and looking forward to that tradition. The following are some suggestions for parents that are new to divorce to help keep the holidays a joyous time for their children:

  • Try not to overload your children’s schedules. It is more important that they get to spend quality time with each parent (rather than every member of the extended family). Choose one parent to have the children on the holiday and the other parent can spend time with them on a day surrounding the holiday. Alternatively, share large blocks of time with the children during the holiday (i.e. wake-up through lunch with one parent, and dinner and evening routines with the other parent).
  • Plan ahead so the children know what to expect and have a routine to look forward to.
  • If, as parents, you are able to get along with one another without any added stress, then spending the day (or just the morning opening gifts) together can be great for the children so long as there is the understanding that it’s nothing more than just that.
  • Make an effort to keep traditions alive. Children look forward to traditions and they help create security, so do your best to keep them going. Remember, it can be difficult – if not impossible – to maintain ALL of the holiday traditions your children are familiar with. Involve your children in creating new traditions to enjoy during the holidays.
  • Remind yourself that this is not a competition to see which parent can create the most fun or buy the most/best gifts. Keep things civil and non-competitive.
  • Refrain from pestering your children with multiple questions about what they did with the other parent. Let them have their time and leave it at that.

While divorce is not always easy, there are ways to make family transitions less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone involved. The children should be the main focus and it is important to attempt to maintain routines and family traditions, new and old. Don’t set the bar too high and expect everything to be perfect because that will only create more stress for you, and remember to try and enjoy yourself as well this holiday season.

From everyone here at Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates, we wish you and your family a happy holiday season!

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Divorce and the Classroom: The Effects of Divorce or Separation on Children and Academics

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School has been in full-swing for two months now and the holidays are right around the corner. If you are a parent in the midst of a divorce or separation, or are a teacher in a classroom, there are certain circumstances that may require special attention with a child who is coping with the separation of his or her parents.

While divorce is a difficult time for all parties involved, the child should always remain the focus to ensure he or she has a routine and the love and support needed to help stay on the right track. If a student’s grades have started slipping or behavior has changed in the classroom, one of the first questions asked by teachers is: “is there an issue in the home?” As a parent, it is helpful to make your child’s teacher aware that you and your spouse have separated, and that your child is adjusting to the changes at home.   There is no need to go into great detail about the proceedings or the underlying reasons for the separation.  It is important for all of the adults in your child’s daily life to remain on the same page and work together as a team to help provide the proper support and guidance for your child so he or she may successfully manage the transition.

A few things for both parents and teachers to keep in mind/be on the lookout for when it comes to a child and his or her performance in the classroom:

  • Are homework assignments missing?
  • Have grades changed drastically from previous marking periods?
  • Are there any behavioral issues or emotional changes?
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns.
  • Does the child separate himself from others at home and/or at school?

Being mindful of these warning signs will help to address the situation in a timely manner before things get too out of hand. Even if a child is doing exceedingly well in school, it is important to check in with the child as it may be a sign that he is immersing himself into too much school work and not enough of anything else, including being with friends.

If you are a newly separated parent, it is crucial to provide your child with love, support and stability.  Helping your child understand and adjust to a schedule that he or she can follow allows for more consistency and reduces anxiety about what to expect. It is critical that you make every effort to communicate with your former spouse and co-parent your child to the best of your ability. Providing consistent rules and discipline for your child will also help with transitioning the child between parents and your respective homes.

Keeping your child the main focus through your separation or divorce is imperative. Communication with your child, your child’s teachers, and your former spouse is an important step in raising a healthy, well-adjusted child through transitions at home, and will likely prove to be beneficial to all parties involved.

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