Raising Kids as a Divorced Parent (Part 4)
Concerns with the kids
As a parent, you’re always concerned about your child and how your actions will affect them. When you’re divorced, it’s easy to feel guilty about a number of things when it comes to your kids. Here are some of the recurring ones I hear.
My time with my kids is so divided and I feel guilty.
Parents who are used to being with their kids every day often have a hard time adjusting to split or joint custody arrangements. Stay at home parents who are suddenly forced back into full time jobs have to learn to balance careers and kids all over again.
Take control of your calendar. Mark the days you have custody of your kids and try to plan obligations on the days in which you don’t have them. This will free more of your time for your kids and you won’t feel as torn and divided.
When commitments and plans have to happen (and sometimes you really do just need a break), this is a great time to help nurture the relationship of the kids with their extended family. Involve the kids in camp or extra curricular program where they can gain a sense of accomplishment while you take care of the things you need to take care of.
And if your recreational weekend away happens to fall when you have custody, ask the co-parent if they’d be willing to switch weekends. Worst case scenario, give yourself permission to take your trip. Your kids will benefit from a relaxed and rejuvenated parent.
I’m not sure if my child’s behavior is developmental or situational.
Could be one or the other or both. Find a trained child counselor who your child can talk to. Divorces are painful and confusing for them too. Yes, your child could be acting out or processing their grief. Ask a counselor to give you tips, tools, and resources to help monitor your child and help them process what they’re going through in a healthy manner.
Give an extra dose of patience and grace, but do not excuse all poor behavior because you feel guilty. Kids are kids and will test limits to see what they can get away with. They need you to keep them safe and maintain structure as they age. Again, a child counselor can advise on what is developmentally appropriate and normal and what needs to be addressed.
I’m afraid of how the kids will react when I date again.
This can be a sensitive and confusing topic for kids and parents. Your child has likely only seen you romantically involved with their other biological parent. It is important for their emotional and mental health that you take your time before jumping back into a new relationship – especially in front of them.
Kids can feel conflicts in loyalty when moms and dads introduce new romantic interests. It’s understandable and natural. You’ll want to talk with your kids before you introduce them to someone new and let them air and vent their feelings and concerns. Assure them that no one will replace their mother or father. When it’s appropriate, let them see the joy your new significant other brings you, and your children may be relieved to see you happy again.
Divorce is confusing and difficult. If you’re struggling with your parental role or decisions since your separation or divorce, you may benefit from working with a professional. As a trained counselor, I come alongside you and help you find your confidence in your new parenting situation. Call me today to get started.