Washington State has a divorce rate that’s slightly above the national average, and the variation by city can go even higher. If you’re getting a divorce here, and there are children involved, you might be surprised to know that according to a 2016 report, a quarter of all dissolutions ended with a 50-50 split of residential time, up to 30% in areas such as King County. But simply having equal time under your parenting plan isn’t a guarantee that kids will turn out alright. Here are four ways you can help kids handle this trying time in their lives.
Avoid conflict exposure
Divorces don’t have to end acrimoniously. Nonetheless, it can be hard not to feel some form of anger or other negative emotions when dealing with your ex. Such emotions can manifest in conversation or in your attitude towards the other parent’s time and role in raising the children.
Kids will see this conflict and imbibe some of it, so limit the exposure. Keep interactions with your ex functional, and discuss important matters in private. Schedule meetings in Kent with your child custody lawyer or mediator, so that issues related to the divorce or parenting plan can be straightened out without the kids present.
Having to go through their parents’ split is not considered ideal for children, but over the years, many kids have proven that they can survive and adjust. A sense of order is essential for this to happen. Children must know that each parent will continue to care for and nurture them and be involved in their lives.
You are no longer parenting together, but the importance of your role as individual parents remains. Not only should you do your part, but you must not undermine each other. Respect one another’s parenting schedules. Don’t blame one another if a child becomes withdrawn; for example; it may be just part of the kid is adjusting. Focus on what you can do to provide structure and a stable environment.
Going through a divorce affects you and your ex in different ways; every child will also go through a unique individual adaptation and response to this process. You should always maintain communication with them to help guide them through this period but do so in a way that’s appropriate to their level of maturity.
Younger kids tend to focus more on themselves and immediate consequences and needs. As adults, we tend to forget this sort of perspective. You probably see the big picture too much, thanks to all those discussions with your counsel. Keep it simple for them, and save the more detailed explanations for your children in their teens or beyond.
See to their best interest
Under Washington State law, judges review custody arrangements in the child’s best interest. In doing so, they consider factors such as each parent’s ability to provide for basic needs, education, and financial support, exercise good judgment, and have a loving relationship with the kids.
However, the child’s metaphysical needs remain for you as a parent to consider and fulfill. These might not have come out as bullet points as your parenting plan was being drawn up, but both parents must be aware of their children’s growing needs for truth, privacy, autonomy, and responsibility, and at the same time provide security and protection, and the chance to become socially integrated into a caring community.
Going through a divorce can be hard for everyone involved. When both parents can agree to put their children’s needs above everything else, the kids can come out of it better than anyone expected.