It’s 2021, and, for many, 2020 delivered divorce on top of the worst year in recent history: unemployment, lockdowns, and a pandemic just weren’t enough for 2020. Your family is trying to work around staying healthy, seeing one another, and learning how to be a different kind of family unit. Restructuring and learning the boundaries of this new relationship becomes the next big focus. Here are four ways to begin the process:
Remember to keep the children first in order to avoid resentment over finances and settlements. Even when the decision to split is mutual, heated debates over assets or alimony can affect decisions about custody or visitation. Don’t let the inevitable arguments steal from your children’s sense of security or their futures. Be the bigger person, even if it hurts your pride.
Have a conversation about your parenting philosophies. This conversation potentially curbs future misunderstandings, arguments, and miscommunications. Understanding how you will parent separately is vital to raising children in a healthy environment. You can learn from one another, make sure the child/children’s mental and emotional health won’t suffer from dysfunction, and you can support one another.
Decide how to tell your children about the split. When telling the kids about a divorce, it’s important to remember that they need love and security. Structure the change in a way that meets these needs. As long as they understand the differences between the old family and the new family, but know they are still part of a family, they will be able to cope with the loss and move forward into their new lifestyle.
Respect the boundaries of the new family. When a family divides into two households, this means that rules and schedules change. Each parent must respect the healthy (notice I did specify the word “healthy”) parameters set about bedtime, dinner time, screen time, discipline, masks, social distancing, etc.
Knowing you both want to work together towards a new kind of family does mean establishing good communication and it will take effort, but the reward of seeing your children thriving makes the extra time and energy worth it. Here’s to the new in 2021!
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