With Mother’s Day on May 8th, you’re probably thinking about your relationship with your children. If you’ve recently divorced, this Mother’s Day may feel particularly poignant. Whether or not you see your kids on the day, it’s a good time to think about how your kids feel about you and how you’re doing as a parent.
Divorcing your spouse can obviously impact your relationship with your kids. However, it doesn’t have to be a negative impact. Whether you’re sharing custody or have sole custody, divorce can actually give you the chance to improve your relationships. Here’s what you need to know about how divorce might affect how you connect with your children and how you can build stronger relationships with them after your divorce.
How Divorce Can Impact Your Relationship with Your Kids
Even the most amicable divorce can still strain parent-child relationships. Three major issues can put pressure on these connections:
- Change: Children thrive on routines. From infants to teenagers, young people rely on consistent schedules to support them while they’re changing and growing. No matter what circumstances surround your divorce, it still means that things are changing for your child. That change and anxiety will put pressure on all of their relationships, especially those with their parents.
- Physical Distance: Custody agreements always put physical distance between children and at least one of their parents. If you don’t receive physical custody of your children, you may only see them in person on occasion. Even if you share custody, you’ll still have days or weeks at a time when your children are somewhere else. This simple physical distance makes it harder to maintain positive relationships since you can’t talk with them and hug them daily the way you used to.
- Emotional Distance: Divorces can be incredibly emotionally difficult. If you’ve been fighting your way through a difficult split, you may not have a lot of emotional energy left over for your kids. Being a single parent can be draining, too. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to let life events put emotional distance between you and your kids. If you’re too tired to engage with your child and talk to them regularly, space will inevitably form between you.
5 Tips for Maintaining Strong Relationships with Children Post-Divorce
Despite these potential issues, you can still keep your connections with your kids strong. It just takes a little bit of thought and empathy. These tips can help you support your children despite your split and even improve your relationship with them, regardless of your custody agreement.
1. Don’t Try to Be the “Cool” Parent
It can be tempting to try to change your relationships by acting like a “cool” parent or friend. However, that’s not always the best idea. When you try to be cool, you usually remove the boundaries and rules kids need to thrive.
This is especially true if you do things just to “compete” with your ex. Ignoring or dismissing your co-parent’s rules to be cool makes it harder for your children to settle into either home. As a result, your kids may like you more in the short term, but you could be harming their development in the long term.
2. Don’t Talk About Your Ex with Your Children
After a divorce, you may not have anything nice to say about your ex. In that case, it’s best to say nothing at all. Unless you and your co-parent are still friends, don’t bring them up with your kids.
Your kids don’t need to know the details about your relationship with their other parent. They especially don’t need to hear about how much you dislike them or their various flaws. Children love their parents; let them love your ex in peace without worrying about hurting your feelings.
3. Set and Follow Schedules
The best way to build stronger connections with your child is to give them the support they need. That includes giving them reliable, stable schedules and routines they can follow, even if you’re sharing custody with another parent.
Let your kids know what they can expect from their schedules in advance. This is particularly important if the plan has to change for some reason, such as during Mother’s Day celebrations. When your kids know what’s going to happen and where they’re going to be, they can relax and trust you more.
4. Give Your Children Focused Attention
No matter what your child custody arrangement looks like, you probably have at least occasional contact with your kids. Do your best to give them focused attention when you spend time with them.
Children can tell when an adult isn’t actually paying attention to them. Ask about their hobbies and friends. Talk to them about school. Make sure to listen when they talk about things they like or dislike. Give them that level of attention, and you’ll build a stronger relationship every time you see them.
5. Let Your Kids Be Kids
Even with the best support and parents, children are still children. They will be insensitive and rude at times. They may not care about holidays like Mother’s Day as much as you do. Don’t hold it against them.
Instead, understand that they’re going through significant changes and need support. This Mother’s Day, let your kids be kids. Let them play and talk to their friends and have big emotions, and support them when they come to you with problems. That will make a much bigger impact on them than anything else you could do.
Keep Your Relationships Strong Despite Your Split
No matter what kind of custody agreement you have, you can still maintain strong connections with your kids. By letting them be children, keeping them out of adult arguments, and remembering that parenting isn’t a game you can win, you can maintain your relationships with them despite your split.
If you’re still going through your divorce and need custody help, or if you need to change your custody arrangement to give your children more support, the team at Regele Law, LLC, is ready to help. Get in touch to discuss your situation and learn more about your options today.