Divorce is not easy. It is difficult for both children and parents to adjust to not seeing each other every day. The concept of a parenting time schedule will be new for the entire family. There are things that you can do, to help make the adjustment process easier for yourself and your children.
Here are three tips to keep in mind when you are faced with a parenting schedule:
1. Stay Positive
It’s important to remember that parenting time is a good thing. Children should have a relationship with both parents. Staying positive doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends with your ex or like everything that they do, but you should be positive and encouraging when discussing your children’s time with the other parent. Remember, your children love both parents. If your children express excitement or joy about their time with the other parent, or what they did during their time, be supportive and interested (be cautioned, however, that you should not interrogate or probe for information). If your children see that you support their relationship with the other parent, this will help them feel more comfortable and less stressed about the schedule and transitions between parents. It may even help make the transitions easier for you as well, and help you feel connected to your children even when they are not with you.
2. Be Organized
It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to actually know the parenting schedule that you and your ex are supposed to be following. Even if you have a straightforward regular schedule, there could be changes written in for holidays, vacations, school events or special occasions. If you need to, keep a hard copy or digital copy of the parenting time schedule with you, so you can easily reference it for changes or clarifications (another word of caution, do not show your stipulation or court order to your children).
You should also keep a family calendar that your children can use. This will help your children know where they are on each day and help establish a routine. Some parents agree to use a shared digital calendar, so that both parents see the same information and are immediately alerted to any changes.
3. Don’t Argue
Hopefully, if you follow Steps 1 and 2, you and your ex will not have cause to argue about the parenting schedule. However, it is important to remember that things come up such as work obligations, traffic, a child being sick, or other emergencies, which impact the parenting schedule. These things can happen to both parents. Be mindful that if, for example, the other parent is late dropping off the children because of traffic, next time it might be you. Resist the urge to argue with the other parent in these situations.
You should also not use pick-up and drop-offs as an opportunity to confront your ex about your litigation issues. Your child should be shielded as much as possible from the conflict between their parents, and the adult issues related to the divorce. They should not see or hear you argue. Again, parenting time is a positive thing, and arguing with your ex at exchanges sends a negative message to your children.
If you have a disagreement, write an email or send a text message that your children cannot see. Remember to password protect content on your phone, tablet or laptop that your child should not see; he or she may be curious and readily open a text or email if they see the other parent’s name.
If you’re a parent thinking about divorce, or in the midst of a divorce and dealing with parenting schedule issues, talk to one of our skilled Long Island divorce lawyers about your case. Wisselman, Harounian & Associates has more than 150 years of combined legal experience to offer for your case.
Contact us at (516) 773-8300 or fill out our online form to schedule your free case consultation today.