A Broken Family: Helping Your Children Emotionally Cope with Separation and Divorce

Sad young girl staring out of a window

Divorcing or divorced parents, as well as a child of separated parents, will know that divorce and separation is an incredibly challenging and emotionally turbulent time.

While an adult has life experience, perspective, and emotional insight, a child may feel as if their entire world is crumbling when their parents are undergoing separation.

The breakup of a family is an overwhelming roller-coaster ride of emotions. For a child, these emotions can be confusing, terrifying, and just plain exhausting. They likely feel shocked, sad, anxious, and, in some cases, guilty.

Navigating separation as a parent is never an easy process.

Fortunately, there are a number of steps that you can take to make your child feel heard, appreciated, loved, and safe.

Remember that a little effort goes a long way when supporting the emotional journey of your child during a separation or divorce. 

We’re here to offer advice on how you can reduce the emotional toll and help your children move forward too.

Be Intentional About Your Communication

As applies to most uncomfortable or emotionally charged situations, you should remain mindful with regards to the ways you choose to express yourself. You also need to be very aware of what information you choose to relay and where and when you will do this.

This intentionality should be implemented from the very beginning. When you tell your child(ren) that you are separating, it’s ideal if both parents are present. Depending on the age of your child, you should strike a balance between honesty and restraint when explaining the reasons for your separation.

Furthermore, this applies to your communication throughout, and even after, the process of separation. Speak about difficult information and negotiate practicalities in a safe and private space and at an appropriate time. Maintain a gentle and supportive tone and, if they are willing, encourage them to engage equally in the dialogue.

Remind Them That You Still Love Them

While you know in your heart of hearts that you love your child unconditionally and eternally, they might lose sight of this fact in the midst of your separation or divorce. Make sure that you express your love through both words and actions.

Furthermore, this expression of emotional tenderness shows them that it is okay to be emotionally vulnerable, compassionate, and honest.

Investing energy into the expression of your love for your children will do wonders for their sense of security and self-confidence.

Reassure Them They Are Not to Blame

A child, particularly a younger child, may feel that a parent’s separation is their fault. They tend to think that divorce is a symptom of a lack of love for them. While you know this is not at all the case, they might need some reassurance.

Communicate, in a gentle manner, that your separation is an adult issue. There is absolutely nothing they could have done to negatively influence or prevent the outcome.

Although it is hard, this also cements the notion that your divorce is final. They can then begin to grieve and commence the slow yet necessary journey towards acceptance.

Encourage Your Child to Speak About Their Emotions

As adults with life experience, we have come to learn that speaking about our feelings is one of the most cathartic and therapeutic means of processing and moving beyond emotional issues and events.

If you have a younger child, they likely do not have the vocabulary nor the emotional faculties to grapple with the complex combination of sadness, anger, anxiety, and dread.

You are, however, able to support them as they learn how to speak about what they are experiencing.

Remember to lead by example, hence the first point about intentional communication, and let them know that emotional vulnerability is safe, courageous, and healthy.

Be As Honest As Reasonably Possible

Even if your child is relatively young, they are likely more perceptive than they might let on.

If tensions are brewing beneath the surface, they will almost certainly pick up on the fact that something is off.

Maintaining an honest channel of communication prevents the unfortunate possibility that they may internalize tensions and, without fair cause or reason, feel that they are to blame for this unhappiness.

Naturally, it’s not always appropriate to be completely transparent about everything that has contributed to your separation, nor the specifics of what your divorce will entail. Use your own judgement to differentiate what is helpful from what is hurtful when communicating with your child.

Do Not Bad-Mouth the Other Parent

This is immensely important.

As tempting as it may be in a moment of passionate anger, do not burden your children with the weight of your own frustration and hurt. It will inevitably pressure them into feeling that they must pick a side and remain exclusively loyal to that one parent.

A child, no matter how young or old, should never have to feel that their love and appreciation for a parent comes at the cost of a poor relationship with the other.

Respect the fact that, at the end of the day, your child has two parents. They have the autonomy to determine what form their relationship with both will take without excessive external influence.

Do Not Communicate with the Other Parent Through Your Child

This is one of the most common mistakes made by parents who are going through a divorce. If your separation has been a bitter and unempathetic one, speaking directly to your ex-partner might be the last thing you wish to do. It is, however, of paramount importance that you remain aware of the fact that you are the parent in the situation, and you need to take responsibility.

Speak directly to your child’s other parent instead of putting them in the highly uncomfortable position of the messenger. They are probably anxious enough as it is. Enforcing unfair responsibilities on them will only encroach upon their ability to emotionally process the events.

Encourage Gentle Transitions

Moving between parents in the initial stages of a separation can be one of the most anxiety-inducing experiences for a child. As much as we acknowledge that saying goodbye is challenging for you too, try to support moments of peaceful transition between homes.

Help them gather what they want to take ahead of time, so as to alleviate stress. Reassure them that you will be seeing them soon, and you are just a phone call away if they need to speak to you.

That said, give them the necessary space with their other parent while they are away. When they return home, resist the urge to bombard them with questions about your ex or their time there. They likely need a moment to settle in and rest.

Seek Professional Assistance

For some reason, many families seem to feel that seeking professional help is a sign of failure or weakness. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Family counsellors and therapists are the most effective means of working through the emotional turmoil —both individually and collectively.

If you’re finding that communication between yourself and your child is strained or non-existent, a therapist can be an excellent mediator of constructive conversation. In this safe and neutral space, you can gain valuable insight into your child’s emotional state and needs.

If you have the available resources, encourage your child to speak to a professional counsellor— preferably one that specializes in family troubles and divorce.

This process will consolidate, validate, and work through their emotions whilst equipping them with the necessary vocabulary to unpack and work through whatever they may be feeling.

Routines Could be Comforting

Naturally, there are several rather dramatic changes occurring in the life of both you and your children.

During this chaos that is an inevitable by-product of the process of separation or divorce, a bit of structure is comforting and oftentimes, absolutely necessary.

Try to establish some routines at home. However big or small, this stability is immensely comforting to a child who feels their world has been turned upside down.

Furthermore, if your child is moving between your house and the house of their other parent, try to structure this in a way that suits everyone as best as possible.

Knowing when they will be staying where helps them to mentally prepare. It also allows them to feel that their feelings and priorities are considered. 

Patience is Key

We feel complete empathy for the fact that when children are involved, separation or divorce is an emotionally grueling and utterly exhausting process.

There may be days where you feel nothing will ever be easy or joyful again. Trust us when we say that happier days are on the horizon. In time, you will move on, and even start dating again. Your children will acclimatize, and a new sense of normalcy will establish itself. It’s just how you handle the transition and equip them to handle the way forward that counts.

In the end, you will be so grateful that you were intentional about the ways that you chose to support your children’s emotional journey throughout the separation process—albeit a demanding endeavor.

This practice of patience should apply to your children as well as yourself. You deserve the space to validate your own frustration, sadness, and fear. Have faith that it only gets easier with time.

Divorcing Parents Turn to ‘Brainwashing’ Children in Custody Battles

children in custody battles

During the pandemic, many couples got divorced because of financial stress and other pressures that pushed them to the brink of their relationships. This has also revealed a lot of potential issues for other married couples.

Not only are people getting divorced but marriage rates are going down as people look towards the future. However, the process of divorce is not simple.

Children in custody battles are affected the most. They have to learn to adapt to new family setups and dynamics after being used to their home environment.

Partners start to wonder how to win a custody battle and they hire custody battle lawyers. Women worry about how a mother can lose a custody battle. Whereas fathers stress over custody battles often favoring the mother.

Ultimately, things can go wrong in a child custody battle and partners may try to turn the child against the other parent. 

It is important to know about what signs to look out for, how to protect your child, and how to create a new normal for your family. 

This article will prepare you for facing this challenge and how to navigate the difficult process of custody battles.

Divorce and Why It Happens

When you meet someone and fall in love you start imagining your life together. Where you’ll live, what house you will have, and all the special memories you’ll create in the future.

It all seems like a dream, until, you wake up one day and realize you do not want to be with your partner anymore. 

No one ever thinks it will happen to them and they wonder, why did this happen?

Divorce happens for many reasons depending on the situation, but there are some common reasons why people choose to separate. 

1. Differences

Even if you believe you have found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, there might be some differences between the both of you that can cause trouble later on. 

At first, you may ignore them but after time they could start causing a lot of arguments and resentment in your relationship. These differences could include, children, goals, and religion. 

2. Finances

Being with someone is about more than just sharing a house, it means sharing finances and budgeting for your living expenses. Ultimately, people view money differently and this might create tension in your marriage. 

For instance, you could disagree about saving, spending, and sharing money with others. 

3. Communication 

In any relationship, especially marriage, talking is key to creating trust and intimacy. Even though communication brings you closer together, it can also push you further apart if you do not express your thoughts effectively. 

If you have communication problems, you will end up avoiding each other and not discussing important issues. 

4. Abuse 

Some people divorce their partners because they are victims of abuse. This involves physical as well as verbal abuse and can lead to someone wanting to leave their spouse. 

In this case, divorce is the only way to remove yourself from a dangerous situation and create a better life for yourself. 

These are a few of the most common reasons why people divorce, however, there are many more other issues that mean couples need to separate. 

Even though divorce is primarily between two partners, if you have children together it becomes even more complicated. Divorce leaves a lifelong mark on a child and they can suffer from emotional problems.

How Children in Custody Battles Are Affected

The way a child is affected by divorce varies from family to family. It all comes down to age, environment, and personality. Some children find the transition after separation harder than others. 

In those situations, the child can experience difficulties in school and emotional distress.

So, how are children in custody battles affected? 

Poor Grades

One of the first signs that your child is having a hard time adapting to your family’s separation is their school grades. This is because the change can make them feel confused and distracted from their studies. 

Children get used to routine and familiarity so when there is a big shift in their daily lives, it becomes more difficult for them to focus on tasks. 

Social Withdrawal

As well as school, children can remove themselves from friendship groups and withdraw from socializing. They can find it hard to relate to people and communicate their feelings when their parents are divorcing. 

When you are young, you feel alone with your problems as you are not aware that other people can have similar experiences. Meaning, children feel as if their family is the only one falling apart.

Therefore, they begin to withdraw into their own world and avoid others. 

Emotional

Some children are more sensitive than others, and they may react strongly to divorce because they are trying to process the change. The consequence of this is they start showing other emotional signs of stress. 

For example, they could become:

  • Anxious
  • Angry
  • Irritable
  • Depressed

It is important to watch out for these behaviors as they might be signs that your child is having trouble adapting to your divorce.

Self-Destructive Behavior

If your child is older, they might begin getting involved in more dangerous and risky behaviors such as substance abuse and sexual activity. Studies show that children from divorced parents are more likely to break the law.

For instance, research shows that they drink alcohol earlier, and begin smoking tobacco and using drugs too. 

Children can be damaged by divorce in many ways, but sometimes, the effects are not only by consequence but they can be inflicted by the parent.

What does this mean?

Well, on some occasions, the parents may try to turn the child against the other parent to have better chances of winning a custody battle. 

Parent alienation syndrome coined by Dr. Richard A. Gardner in the 1980s is the term used when a parent tries to turn the child against their other parent. 

If the relationship does not end friendly there might be some festering resentment between the two parents. Then, the angry parent tries to convince the child that the other parent is the cause of their divorce.

Signs of Parent Alienation

When your partner is trying to brainwash your child into believing you are the reason for the family falling apart, there are a few signs you can look out for. This way, you can intervene before they influence your child even more. 

1. Negative Memories

Your child might only remember negative memories from their childhood or past family events. This means they do not have positive associations with their alienated parent and further distance themselves from that parent. 

Even if you remind them of certain memories, they will deny it and convince you it was different. 

2. Avoidance

Does your child keep avoiding visits? Do they tell your excuses to get out of a planned event together?

Well, this could be another sign that your spouse is trying to alienate you. This is evidence that they are trying to ignore you and might be getting told by the other parent to stay away from you. 

3. Mimic Behavior

You might begin noticing some similarities in your child’s behavior and your ex-partner’s. This could be as simple as repeating phrases or coping opinions that your ex-partner shared. 

When a child becomes brainwashed they start to mimic the parent’s behavior and start to get confused with their own thoughts. This means they form a robotic response when communicating with you. 

As well as this, they take on the stress of your divorce and get caught up in the middle of your tension with your partner. 

4. Ignore Your Advice

As a parent, there are times when you have to give advice and guidance to your child to help them overcome a problem.

However, when your child is ignoring you and only listening to your spouse this is another sign of alienation. Especially after a custody battle when you need to assert yourself individually as a parent. 

This is extremely difficult as your child does not respect your rules or decisions and constantly resists authority. 

5. Dislike Your Interests

Of course, when children grow up it is normal to break away from your parents and discover your own hobbies and interests. But, sometimes, your child ends up liking the same things as you. 

This means you form a bond over common interests and become friends as well as parents.

This is what everyone dreams of, right?

That being said, in some instances your child may start hating everything you like and loses interest in all your passions. As well as this, they could also begin avoiding your family and friends. 

They could begin disliking grandparents, family friends, or neighbors simply because they have a connection to you. 

Although all of these signs can be challenging when you a filing for divorce, there is hope for finding a solution and ensuring that your child does not suffer. 

How to Have a Happy Divorce

Statistics show that 40%-50% of marriages end in divorce, so there are many times when parents need to navigate divorce. If this is you, then you need to know the best ways to help your child adapt to their new normal.

First, you have to consider how you talk about the divorce…

Talk About Your Feelings

It is important to encourage your child to talk about their feelings and emotions about the divorce. They need to feel safe and secure when discussing it so they can open up about any problems they are feeling.

No matter what time they need to talk, you should be ready to listen! 

Embrace Changes

You can read all the information available about children and divorce but nothing prepares you for the moment you have to face it in real life. 

That is why embracing changes in your child is essential in helping them process the news. They might act out of character or withdraw so you need to be ready to adjust accordingly. 

Organize

When it comes to the logistics of divorce and shared custody, there are practical ways you can provide stability to your child. 

Gill Ruidant was once faced with the challenge of organizing custody of a child after divorce. He founded the company 2houses after realizing that there were very few tools to help parents manage the separation…

2houses is a platform aimed at supporting parents through the process of divorce by providing information and access to features such as a calendar, journal, finances, and messages. 

All of which are there to support you so you can continue to look after your child in the best possible way

Be Gentle to Yourself

Being a parent is not just about looking after your child, you need to make sure you are being kind and gentle with yourself. Plus, if you show emotions to your child they will feel more comfortable showing theirs. 

This openness can really help your child understand why you got divorced and comprehend the future without both parents together. 

Ideally, you and your partner can work on this together and give your child a stable setup even if you are no longer in a relationship. Just because you break up does not mean that there needs to be tension. 

If you explain to your child why it happened and reassure them that it is not their fault, then when they grow up they will be able to sympathize with your decision and forgive you for any issues it caused. 

Things Can Be Better Apart

Although we all wish that life would have a happy ending, life can throw things at us that we do not expect. When it comes to children in custody battles, you need to be aware of some complications that can happen.

Now that you have all the information you need to identify signs of parent alienation, you will be able to avoid this happening to your child. 

Then, you can focus on making the transition smooth and comfortable for your kid. Take a look at these excellent tips and useful tools for making sure your future is happy and peaceful. 

Divorce After the Betrayal of a Partner: How to Tell Children and What to Do Next

Divorce After the Betrayal of a Partner

While engaged in an emotional affair, the spouse usually retracts emotional closeness from the marriage to give it to someone else. As a matter of fact, for women, rapid emotional distancing is a crucial signal of an emotional affair. The majority of people are unable to express the same amount of romantic passion to different individuals. However, if you ask people about their feelings about the wrongness of emotional cheating, the vast majority will agree that it is very hurtful.

According to one survey, 60 percent of individuals considered emotional affairs to be the same as cheating. Only 18 percent of those who took part in the survey disagreed. In general, people still believe that being faithful to one-person means being true to themselves, both physically and spiritually. This is especially true in the case of marital relationships. 40 percent more likely to be separated or divorced after getting cheated by their partner.

Divorce can be extremely painful even when the relationship is no longer good since it marks the loss of your partnership and the dreams and commitments that you shared with your significant other. Things start on a high note of enthusiasm and anticipation for the future when it comes to romantic relationships. When a relationship does not work out, we are filled with deep sadness, frustration, and despair.

When you have a breakup or divorce, you are thrust into uncharted territory. All of your routines and obligations, your house, your connections with extended family and friends, and even your identity have been thrown off balance by this event. Uncertainty about the future is another side effect of a divorce. What would your life be like if you didn’t have a partner? Will you find another person? Will you be alone? These unknowns may sometimes feel worse than being in an unpleasant relationship, making it difficult to cope.

Recovery after a divorce can be tough and time-consuming due to the pain, disruption, and uncertainty. Keep reminding yourself that you will get through this tough experience and that you will be able to move on with a fresh feeling of hope and optimism. In this guide, we will explain how to tell kids about divorce and not hate the other parent who was cheating.

How to tell kids about the divorce

Once upon a time, two thoughtful parents sat their preschooler down to inform him of their upcoming separation. It was done carefully and softly, but they explained to him that his parents were no longer living together and would now be living in separate places, but that he would still be seeing both of them on a regular basis.

They concluded by emphasizing the most crucial element: that both his mother and father still loved him, and they asked if he had any questions. The four-year-old was deafeningly quiet. “Who’s going to look after me?” he said after that.

It’s a short narrative, told by Joan B. Kelly, a California psychologist, mediator, and author, that gives a glimpse into the disparities in the experiences of adults and children going through a divorce. These parents had done all that was expected of them. They’d sought expert counsel and attempted to provide their kid with the necessary facts without overloading him with too much information. Despite this, they could not communicate this critical point, which may have been obvious to them but was not to him.

Adults see divorce for what it is: a complicated, multi-faceted circumstance. Early on, young infants have a tendency to see the world in concrete and self-centered ways. Understanding where your children are at in their development will help you in assisting them in adjusting to the realities of divorce. Below we have discussed how to tell your teenager you are separating.

The two-year-old and ten-year-old children react differently to the news of their parent’s separation. Here’s a guide on how to explain divorce to a child of any age.

How to tell 0-5 years old kids about divorce:

Babies and toddlers

  • Dependence on parents or caretakers.
  • A lack of capacity to comprehend complicated events.
  • An inability to foresee future scenarios.
  • An inability to understand their own emotions.

Preschoolers

  • He or she is starting to gain independence but is still very reliant on others.
  • Limited capacity to comprehend cause and effect relationships, yet unable to anticipate the future.
  • They believe that the world revolves around them and that the boundary between fantasy and reality is occasionally blurred.
  • Possess some capacity to think about sentiments but a very limited ability to express them verbally.

How to explain divorce to a child

When Nicholas Benson and his wife, Lisa, divorced last autumn, their two children, Andrew, six, and Caitlyn, four, were already used to spending most of their time with their father since Mom’s profession required her to be away from home for more than a few days a month. It took Caitlyn time to adjust to Lisa’s decision to leave their home in Milton, Ont., since she had grown up in the house. When the children returned home following their first-weekend stay with their mother, Caitlyn exclaimed, “Mommy home?” despite the fact that they had only just left her house. Caitlyn will need time and many basic explanations before she is able to comprehend what is being said.

What to keep an eye out for: Fear, rage, and emotional instability are common signs of discomfort among preschoolers, and they may manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including clinginess, anxiety, whininess, and overall irritability. Preschoolers may also lag in terms of developmental progress. For example, toddlers who were previously sleeping through the night may start to wake up more often.

According to Rhonda Freeman, manager of Families in Transition, a Toronto’s Family Services Association program, children as young as three and four years old might develop incorrect views about the causes and consequences of divorce because of their poor cognitive abilities. They could think ‘Dad abandoned me’ rather than ‘Dad left Mom’ if their father is the one who leaves the house, according to her. Children must realize that the choice to live apart is an adult one, says the author. The fact that toddlers have difficulties comprehending this.

Priorities for parents separating with kids

Children benefit from consistent care and nurturing because it provides them with a feeling of security and comfort. As a result, tots’ lives must be anchored as much as possible by their typical routines (meals, play, bath, bed) in the presence of a parent who is “there for them.” This is, of course, necessary for all children, but it is particularly crucial for children whose parents have divorced. If things aren’t going well at home, preteens and teenagers may get away by hanging out with their friends, says Joan Kelly. Baby, toddler, and preschoolers are not able to do so.

Preschoolers want straightforward, tangible explanations. Keep it simple: which parent will be leaving, where the kid will live, who will care for him, and how frequently he will see the other parent are the only things that need to be discussed. Prepare yourself for questions; provide concise answers, and then wait to see if there is anything more. Don’t anticipate a single conversation to accomplish the task; instead, prepare for a series of brief conversations.

How to tell 6-11 years old kids about divorce

Children between the ages of 6 and 8

  • A little more capacity to think about and express emotions.
  • A wider, less egocentric vision of what is happening around them, but still a limited comprehension of complex situations such as divorce.
  • A little more ability to think about and express feelings.
  • Increasing the number of relationships outside the household (friends and school).

Children between the ages of 9 and 11

  • At this age, relationships with others outside the family (friends, teachers, coaches) are more established and play a larger role in determining how the kid spends his or her time.
  • He or she has a tendency to view things in black and white and may put the blame for the divorce.

How to explain divorce to a child

Erica Hallman of Toronto remembers her daughter Jessica, who was in kindergarten at the time, struggling to comprehend the reasons for her parents’ divorce. She once asked me, ‘Why are you fighting?’  What is the reason for this? Has he removed anything from your computer? This was a simple miscommunication that was easily resolved. The divorce was triggered by Dad accidentally deleting something from Mom’s computer, and they exchanged furious words as a result. However, this was not the reason for the divorce.

What to keep an eye out for: The distress of school-aged children may manifest itself in the form of fear, worry, anger, or grief, with others displaying more obvious indications of missing their absent parent. This is the worst age for divorce for children.

According to Freeman, children who believe that they may be able to get their parents back together feel that they are responsible for the divorce. Because of this, children must realize that those are adult choices that they did not create and are unable to influence. There are many books available about divorce that can also help kids focus on their feelings. Those books may not be available in your region or price higher in your state, so you can use VPN for iOS to download that book. You can try VeePN’s VPN app for iPhone to get useful information and get care about your kid.

How to tell 12-14 years old kids about divorce

  • Increased ability to comprehend issues pertaining to divorce; ability to participate in conversations and ask questions to understand better.
  • Initiating feelings to desire more independence.
  • The importance of relationships outside of the family is growing.

How to explain divorce to a child

When Eve Mirowski’s children were 10 and 12 years old, she was going through a divorce from her alcoholic husband. The situation had become so terrible that the judge ordered both parents not to speak about the court proceedings for a period of time after that. It’s hard to protect children from this sort of conflict completely, but Mirowski did all she could to protect them. “I simply wanted to make our house a secure haven for our family.

Mealtimes were set at regular mealtime and bedtime, and my husband was never allowed to enter the home. The evening before I left the boys to go out, I grabbed my cell phone and told them they could contact me whenever they wanted.” And they did call on a regular basis. She recalls how her oldest son, Joe, starts getting headaches and trouble sleeping after a period of time. “I was concerned that, given my stress, I wouldn’t be able to provide him with the necessary coping skills on my own, so I asked for help.” Joe started attending a therapist, who was able to provide him with help.

What to keep an eye out for: Irritability and anger are prevalent, directed towards either parent or at the parent who has moved out. It might be difficult to determine how much of a young teen’s irritation is caused by the parent’s divorce. According to Freeman, “Think about separating with kids and how their behavior or moods have changed.”

Priorities for parents separating with kids

Keeping lines of communication open reduces the chances that emotional problems may slip through the gaps. Getting through to children in this age group may be difficult, and they may even behave as if they do not want to be reached. However, the majority of teenagers and preteens still need and want contact with their parents. “I’ve heard from a lot of children over the years who said they were testing their parents to see whether they actually cared,” said Freeman.

What to do next?

After divorce, parenting will be a difficult task. So, you have to consider these practices for a better future for your children.

Communication channels must be open all the time

Take your children out to dinner once a week without your new spouse. If they refuse to engage in conversation with you, do not force the issue.  Your children will know that you are not willing to give up since your connection with them is priceless as a result of your actions. During the week, write letters or send SMS to your children to maintain a line of contact between you and them. Your continued presence and interest in them demonstrate that you are committed to developing a connection with them.

Good Parenting

It isn’t easy to maintain good parenting practices when you are mourning the loss of a relationship and focused on lawyers and court dates. Make every effort to keep adult difficulties distinct from your interactions with your children, and seek outside assistance, such as counseling, if you need it.

Don’t take your children’s rage or cruel actions personally

It’s possible that your children are terrified of losing you as a parent. Anger often serves to conceal feelings of fear. If your kid is old enough to refuse to counsel, you should attend the session by yourself to learn how to cope with the problem in a positive manner. Allow yourself to be the catalyst for good changes in your relationship.

Life after Divorce: Tips for Moving into Your New Home

Life after divorce

Moving houses is never easy, especially if it happens after a divorce. While you’re still dealing with the pain of the breakup, it’s hard to focus on the move. And once you look at your new place, it can be hard to imagine it as your new home. However, there are ways you can make this unpleasant process easier on yourself and your kids if they are in the mix. If you focus on a few simple tasks, you can turn your empty house into a peaceful and loving home for your new family.

Purge your possessions

You don’t have to keep all the things you’ve got in the divorce. In order to make this new place your home, you will need to purge and declutter. For instance, you can ditch the wedding albums, leave that ugly couch you’ve always hated on the curb and sell your marital bed on the internet. The objects we own carry strong emotional associations with them, so you might want to start fresh with a few important items. While you need to be practical with new purchases, some items need to go. If you need a coffee table, but you own the one you and your ex bought on your honeymoon to Bali, it will need to be replaced.

Be fast and decisive

No matter if this house is yours forever or just a temporary rental, you can’t live out of boxes and feel at home. You shouldn’t be scared to spend money and time to quickly unpack and get your place functional and comfortable. Throw on a fresh coat of paint, buy a new washing machine and set up your internet and cable—these will make your life easier and nicer. Also, taking action when it comes to your new place will give you a purpose and get rid of any insecurity in your life.

Prioritize safety

Every time you move into a new place, you need to check if it’s safe and secure for you and your kids. Inspect the house and remove any hazards that can cause trips, slips and bumps, and provide baby gates on stairs. Also, make sure all your locks are new and you have at least some semblance of a security system in place (camera doorbell or alarm system)—this is especially important in case your divorce was ugly and there’s some bad blood between you and your ex. And make sure your new place is insured.  Only move in after you set up your home and contents insurance that will offer coverage for storms, fire, earthquake, flood, escaping water, as well as explosions, riots and theft. Get insurance quotes early, so you can move into a fully insured house that is safe for you and your loved ones.

Let kids set up their bedrooms

If you have kids, you’re probably worried about how they will handle the divorce, but if you quickly provide them with stability, they will adapt to change. They also need to have a little bit of independence, since there are so many things that are out of their control. Giving them ownership of their rooms can be very beneficial. Let them choose the furniture, color, window treatment and give them the responsibility of keeping their bedrooms clean and tidy.

Decorate according to your tastes

You probably have a bunch of mementos of your old life before marriage tucked away somewhere. Well, this is the perfect time for them to come out and serve as decoration in your new house. Place them somewhere visible so they can cheer you up quickly and easily. Decorating is also a perfect opportunity to create some new memories with your kids. When you catch a free afternoon, you can start a project and work on it together to beautify your new house.

You can also surround yourself with pictures of your loved ones. You might not want to completely forget about your married life, but it’s important to document the state of your family today. Fill the space with photos of you and your kids, friends and family members—this will remind you what you accomplished and encourage you to continue making amazing memories.

Don’t neglect nature

No matter where you live, in the city or suburbs, three things can instantly lift your mood: fresh air, greenery and animals. If you can’t get a pet, you can always go to a shelter and give some love to those in need. In general, contact with nature boosts mood, lowers stress and blood pressure and raises serotonin levels. If you have the space, set up a little garden to serve as your haven. Tending to a garden after a divorce can be a very healing experience.

Every divorce is different and everyone takes it differently, but one is for sure—in your new house, you will find peace and happiness. And if you follow our tips, your new house will turn into a home in a blink of an eye. 

Co-parenting Arrangement Without Going Through the Courts?

Co-parenting arrangement

It’s not always easy figuring out how a co-parenting arrangement might work. The good news is that establishing a co-parenting arrangement doesn’t always require going through the courts. An amicable, voluntary agreement can help save time and money for parents who want joint custody of their children.

Here, we’ll discuss various ways to make co-parenting agreements without going through the courts. We’ll also answer some common questions about co-parenting.

To learn more about co-parenting arrangements without going through the courts, keep reading.

Getting Started With Negotiating

You may want a better way to reach a custody agreement. It might surprise you to learn that the best custody agreements have been drafted outside of a courtroom.

These kinds of arrangements involve mutual agreements between two parties. Sometimes, a neutral third-party may help.

In this way, former couples can create a reasonable custody agreement in an open and mature manner. These kinds of agreements are usually acceptable to the courts.

Making a Co-Parenting Arrangement

You may have an amicable relationship with your ex-spouse or partner. If so, you might find that it’s possible to create a written agreement regarding the care of your child. For instance, one parent may have partial custody, and the other would have visitation rights.

Still, the two of you will need to make decisions. For instance, you’ll need to figure out where your child will spend their birthday. You’ll also need to figure out where your child will spend special holidays and other important family events.

There are three ways that you might go about this task. These methods include.

• Alternative dispute resolution
• Mediation
• Collaborative law

Let’s have a closer look at these practices.

Getting Help With Negotiations

Even though the two of you are agreeing to agree, you may still need to conduct an informal negotiation. Negotiation would involve you, your former spouse, and possibly another party.

This kind of negotiation is called alternative dispute resolution (ARD). It’s a relatively new concept.

ARD is used for a variety of processes. It enables parties to settle disputes out of court and bypass lengthy trials.

A Better Way to Resolve Conflicts

The ADR process is less adversarial. It also takes place in a setting that’s more casual than a court. Still, there are other benefits to alternative dispute resolution.

For example, there’s a lesser degree of conflict between parties during ADR. Also, couples that participate in ADR seem more willing to work together to resolve issues. Furthermore, ADR proceedings don’t become a part of the public record.

Navigating Custody

Some separating couples also resolve conflicts using an informal settlement negotiation process. This process is called mediation.

Again, the emphasis here is on non-adversarial conflict resolution. In this process, a mediator will meet with you and your former spouse. The mediator will help you to settle any disputes.

The mediation process can help you and your former spouse to avoid hostile, stress-filled litigation. It will also spare you and your child from the trauma of a custody dispute.

What to Expect

A mediator will not impose a solution for a dispute. Instead, they will aid you as parents. The mediator will help the two of you come to an agreement.

Some states do ask mediators to make recommendations. However, they only usually do so when the parties involved in mediation cannot reach an agreement.

Also, some states encourage mediation over child custody litigation. In these states, legislators view mediation as a better method for establishing child custody and visitation compared to litigation.

The Benefits of Mediation

Mediation offers several benefits. Firstly, it doesn’t require the expense of hiring a lawyer. There’s also no need for the courts to call expert witnesses during mediation.

Couples usually resolve mediation matters after five to ten hours of negotiation. These negotiations may take place over a period of one to two weeks.

Mediation, rather than litigation, enhances communication between parents. In other words, it’s more likely that divorced parents who’ve taken part in mediation will continue to cooperate. This outcome is very beneficial for raising emotionally healthy children.

The Mediation Process

There are several steps involved in the mediation process. First, you’ll need to meet with the mediator for the first time.

During the initial meeting, the mediator will identify and categorize any issues. After identifying any issues, the mediator can help you and your ex-partner discuss solutions.

During the discussion, your mediator will encourage both of you to maintain a give and take attitude. Once you’ve come to an agreement, the mediator will help to prepare your custody agreement.

The amount of time that it takes you to complete mediation will vary depending on a few things. For instance, mediation will take longer or shorter depending on the number of custody issues that arise.

The length of the mediation will also vary based on the complexity of your issues. Finally, your commitment to a successful agreement will also affect how long the full mediation process takes.

A New Kind of Family Law

Another kind of negotiation falls under a relatively new and emerging legal process. The process is called collaborative law. In many cases, parents find that collaborative law is very useful.

Collaborative law practices help to reduce legal costs. They also help to reduce animosity between involved parties.

These kinds of benefits are important when trying to achieve a child custody agreement. During a collaborative law process, the primary focus is an absolute commitment to coming to an agreement.

Understanding Collaborative Family Law

During a collaborative law process, two lawyers negotiate in a room alongside the parents. The lawyers work together to help guide parents in the same direction. The goal here is to resolve any issues and disputes.

Collaborative law is different from alternative dispute resolution and mediation. With this process, there’s no neutral third-party involved in the process.

Accordingly, you may have decisions to make as the collaborative law process moves forward. For instance, you may choose to hire a lawyer or an expert to help with accounting issues. You might also need to hire other professionals to help with asset valuation or any other important issues that may arise.

Settling on an Agreement

If you’re entertaining entering a parenting agreement, you’re most likely separating from a former partner or spouse. If a child is involved in the separation, it’s important that you create a parenting agreement.

Challenging times may have led to the separation. Nevertheless, you must focus on putting the needs of your child first.

In other words, you’ll need to do everything that you can to come to a mutual agreement about custody and visitation issues. Coming to an agreement is a much better alternative compared to leaving it to a judge to decide what’s best for your family.

Why Make a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a written agreement. It will help set a precedent for a successful post-separation relationship.

The making of your parenting plan is an opportunity for you and your ex-partner to talk about important issues. It will help the two of you examine things that may come up during your child’s lifetime.

For example, a parenting agreement might include the terms of the parenting schedule. It might also highlight each parent’s shared expenses and responsibilities for raising the child.

Finding a Parenting Plan that Works

There’s no pre-made parenting plan that will work for every family. What works for one family may not work for another.

Some parents will prefer a split custody parenting plan. This kind of plan provides for frequent and continuous contact with each parent about 50% of the time.

Other parents may prefer a plan where one parent has limited contact. For example, a separating couple may prefer an arrangement where one parent has the child every other weekend plus a midweek.

Alternatively, the parenting plan could make provisions for an occasional overnight visit. These kinds of points are something that only you and your former partner can decide.

Managing Parenting Plan Changes

A question often comes up after parents create a parenting plan. The parents have done the challenging work of working together to create a parenting agreement.

However, eventually, they realize that things could change over time. Now, they’re left wondering what they’ll do when the terms of the current parenting agreement are no longer ideal.

It’s possible to make changes to a parenting agreement. After finalizing a parenting agreement, most couples don’t want to revisit the experience of returning to court, and this is understandable.

However, there’s something that you need to understand in this regard. It’s possible that a dispute could arise in the future.

If this happens, the courts will decide based on the last legal parenting agreement, no matter how long the two of you have used a verbally agreed-on plan.

Parenting Plan Points to Consider

As you develop your parenting plan, you and your ex will need to consider a few important things. Of course, you’ll need to consider your custody agreement. Here, you’ll need to come up with a plan that works for both you and your child.

Separating parents make many different kinds of custody arrangements. For example, separated parents could continue to live near each other. In this case, a shared parenting schedule with equal time with their child may work well.

What’s important here is to come up with a plan where everyone agrees. Your custody plan must be palatable for everyone involved.

With this in mind, you’ll also want to get input from your child. If they’re of a suitable age, their feelings about the situation should weigh in your decision.

Choosing Living Arrangements

Often, children prefer a flexible living arrangement. In other words, they want the ability to transition between households as desired. When parents separate, kids often want to go from household to household on their schedule, not that of their parents.

Here, it’s important to remember that kids want to know their parents care about them. They also want to know that both parents will continue to be a part of their everyday life. It’s vital to provide this benefit for your children with few interruptions and stresses.

Visitation

In some instances, you may find that you’re geographically separated after a divorce or separation. In that case, you may need to choose a primary residence for your child during the week and school year. They’ll then usually visit with the other parent on weekends, holidays, and summer.

In this scenario, your parenting plan should include where and when you’ll exchange your child. It should also include how the two of you will make decisions about where your child will stay during an emergency.

Your parenting plan might also address the visitation percentage of the non-custodial parent. For instance, couples usually agree that the non-custodial parent will have about 20% of the total parenting time.

Education

You’ll also need to come to an agreement about your child’s education. It can prove very disruptive for a child to change schools mid-year. With this in mind, you’ll want to achieve continuity and stability for your child.

For example, you might agree not to change school arrangements until the end of the school year. You’ll also need to work out how you’ll both contribute to school expenses.

Again, this kind of problem might arise for parents who live in geographically separate areas. You may find that your child wants to change the living arrangement and move with the other parent.

In that case, they’ll also need to attend a new school. You’ll need to consider this as you draft your parenting arrangement.

Also, don’t overlook the time your child needs to study and do their homework. In addition, both parents should be prepared to help with assignments when needed.

Finalizing a Parenting Plan

The courts must approve your final parenting plan. Until the courts approve the plan, it has no legal standing.

This part of the process begins with a judge reviewing your parenting plan. The primary concern of the judge is that your plan meets the best interests of your child.

In this regard, the Family Court must accept your parenting plan. If they do, the parenting plan becomes a court order. In other words, you must legally abide by all terms of the parenting plan.

A Tool That Makes Co-parenting Easier

Hopefully, our brief overview has helped you see the benefits of a co-parenting arrangement. Coming to an agreement is just the first step in successfully raising a child after separation.

You’ll also need to keep track of many things as you raise your child. 2Houses can help.

2Houses can help you with co-parent scheduling, communication, financial tracking, and more. Give our 14-day free trial a try to learn how.

5 Tips for Handling High-Conflict Coparenting

High conflict coparenting

Relationships usually don’t end peacefully, and it’s normal for couples with children to have tried everything they could to stay together. This means that by the time you get through a breakup or divorce with your children’s other parent, it can be difficult to transition into peaceful coparenting. In many cases, tensions ease over time and as everyone adjusts to the new normal, but sometimes, it can be very difficult to move forward and the parties get stuck in an ongoing cycle of conflict. The latter situations are often referred to as high-conflict cases.

Before we jump into our tips for handling high-conflict coparenting, it’s a good idea to first define what we’re talking about. Every person who is trying to coparent is bound to have communication challenges or find that what they want doesn’t line up with what the other parent thinks is best. That’s just normal coparenting. It takes compromise and lots of communication as well as both parents being focused on the needs and well-being of the children.

 In high-conflict coparenting, however, the majority of the interactions between the parents are contentious and there is little to no compromise on at least one person’s part. These aren’t just simple disagreements that crop up from time to time. It’s an ongoing pattern of conflict, with at least one party refusing to cooperate and actually coparent together. So, what do you do in those situations? Check out our tips below.

1. Take Care of Yourself

This might seem obvious, but in the midst of all the chaos and juggling that comes with being a single parent, many parents forget that they still need to focus on their own health. The better your own mental, emotional and physical health is, the more prepared you will be to handle high-conflict situations calmly and with a good perspective.

It’s important to eat nutritious food that you enjoy, get enough sleep so that you wake up feeling well rested and to remember to carve out time for your own interests and hobbies. A solid social support system is also critical. You need people to talk to about your situation and who can both listen when you need to rant and get out some frustrations and who can provide some outside perspective.

Lowering your stress levels is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your children and your entire household. While this may seem laughable if you’re trying to navigate a high-conflict coparenting situation, it’s crucial to focus on what you can control. Don’t overschedule yourself and make time for something that calms and grounds you every day.

2. Get It in Writing

You may have heard the saying in business that if it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen, and this is also true for coparenting. It’s important to get any schedules, agreements or plans in writing so that there is an objective record of who was supposed to do what. If it is at all possible, it’s best for this to be an actual court order.

If you’re still working on finalizing your parenting plan, try to include everything you can think of that might possibly have to be a discussion later on. This could include who pays for private school tuition, who does the transportation to and from extracurricular activities and whether you split costs like school supplies and fees. If you already have a parenting agreement in place, it may be worth it to go back to court to try to get it amended to include the particulars for any recurring issues.

If it’s something small that wouldn’t be covered in the actual court documents, make sure to get a record of the other parent’s response and communication. Text is okay, but if you have to go to court later, texts aren’t always considered admissible. Email correspondence or communication through a coparenting app like 2houses is best. You can also do this yourself by sending the other parent an email such as, “Per our phone call today at 2 p.m., you will be taking Chris to soccer on your weekend.”

3. Use a Coparenting App

A coparenting app makes it easier to keep records for court, ensure you have agreements in writing and have everything you need all in one place. 2houses, for example, has a messaging feature that keeps track of when each parent opens and responds to the message, and it makes it so no one can delete a message and pretend like they never got it.

The other major advantage of a coparenting app is that it significantly decreases the amount of direct communication you need to have with the other parent — and, therefore, decreases the number of chances for a conflict. With 2houses, you can put the children’s schedule of appointments and extracurriculars on the calendar so you don’t have to personally notify the other parent. It also gives you a place to upload pictures and document important memories or conversations. You can even use the finance tracker to submit expenses for the other parent to pay directly through the app, lessening the amount of back and forth and automatically providing you documentation if you need to go to court.

You can download messages, expenses and anything else you need in an easy-to-use form that can then be given to your attorney or the courts, if necessary.

4. Pick Your Battles

High-conflict coparenting situations aren’t called that for no reason. It can seem like every single little thing becomes a huge issue. And it probably does — because that’s what high-conflict people do. But just because the other parent wants to make something an issue doesn’t mean you have to agree. Think about what things are actually worth responding to or intervening with, such as safety issues, and try to let the rest go.

Maybe the other parent lets the children watch TV shows or movies you don’t approve of or lets them spend more time playing games on the tablet than you would allow. In the grand scheme of things, these aren’t worth fighting about with someone who isn’t willing to actually listen to your reasoning and try to find a compromise.

5. Focus on De-escalation

Disagreements are inevitable, and when they involve your children, it’s normal for there to be heightened emotions and easily triggered tempers. High-conflict people play off of this and often purposefully try to get the other parent to react to something. They feed off of the drama and chaos.

So, what can you do? Focus on de-escalation tactics. This can involve noticing that you’re getting angry or starting to raise your voice and taking a few deep breaths to remind yourself that you don’t want to engage. It can also mean using specific strategies when talking with the other parent, such as saying, “You might be right” or “I hadn’t considered that angle” when they’re trying to argue. This doesn’t mean they are right or that their angle is a good one, but this is a strategy that can cause the other person to pause and get out of fight mode so you can then exit the conversation.

The bottom line is that you can’t control the other parent — or any other people involved — and you can only control your own actions. Stick to the court order, getting modifications as necessary, keep thorough records with a solid paper trail, and remind yourself that while you will likely never be able to be completely rid of the other parent, there will come a time when the children have grown up that you won’t have to actively coordinate with the other parent on this level.

What to Do if Your Co-parent Is a Narcissist: Your Comprehensive Guide

What to Do if Your Co-parent Is a Narcissist

Narcissism is a major problem. 1% to 15% of the population suffers from narcissism. Some people have narcissistic personality disorder, while others struggle with some narcissistic symptoms. 

Narcissism becomes an even worse problem when it comes to split custody. A narcissistic co-parent can make the separation and parenting processes far harder than they need to be. Yet you can get help. 

What exactly is narcissism? How can narcissism impact a person’s parenting, and how can you help your child? What should you do to keep a narcissistic co-parent from affecting your life? 

Answer these questions and you can be an effective co-parent in spite of your ex. Here is your comprehensive guide. 

The Basics of Narcissism 

A personality disorder is a mental disorder. A person with one has patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are unhealthy or destructive. They may be aware of the consequences of their actions, yet they cannot change them. 

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) impacts a person’s ego. They have a larger-than-normal sense of self-importance and skills. 

A person may exaggerate their achievements, including lying about successes in their life. They may be preoccupied with their fantasies of success and power. They may believe they are special and refuse to associate with any “normal” people. 

At the same time, they may come across as insecure. They may perform stunts so people will give them attention. They may fish for compliments or ask for approval repeatedly. 

Signs of Narcissism 

A person can come across as narcissistic in many different ways. They may come across as intelligent and capable during initial conversations. During first dates, they may shower their partner with signs of love and affection. 

Yet as time goes on, they may express an idealized view of their partner. This may come across as flattering, but it can also be arrogant. The person with NPD may say that the two of them are more special than everyone else. 

The person with NPD may prioritize their needs over the needs of their partner. They may stay for longer hours at work, or they may ask their partner for special favors. 

If the two go through a divorce, the person with NPD may insist on longer hours for child custody. They may also insist on having a greater share of the marital property. 

They may attack their ex in court, insisting that they are not fit to be a parent. They may initiate confrontations and enjoy how they make their ex and child upset. 

Keep in mind that the signs of NPD overlap with those of other mental health conditions. Bipolar disorder can lead to someone feeling egocentric or pulling stunts for attention. 

A person can have NPD and another mental health condition. They can also develop a substance abuse disorder. They may abuse a substance to cope with their lack of attention or to soothe their insecurities. 

How Narcissism Can Affect Parenting 

NPD can affect a person’s style of parenting in a few different ways. If you have a narcissistic ex-husband or a narcissistic ex-wife, you need to understand how they function as a parent. Monitor them closely and adjust your parenting style so you can support your child. 

The Achievement-Obsessed Co-parent

A narcissistic co-parent may be obsessed with their child’s achievements. They may insist that their child be the best, including through their physical appearance.

They may praise their child, but only when they accomplish something. When the child does something wrong, they may criticize them harshly. They may neglect their child when they need help because they don’t want to see their child as weak. 

The Self-Obsessed Parent 

The parent may demand admiration from their child. They cannot tolerate any disagreement or criticism. They praise their child when they follow their orders, but they scorn them when they disagree. 

Children with self-obsessed parents have low self-esteem. They may denigrate themselves and refuse to take leadership positions at school. 

The Prioritizing Parent 

Someone with NPD who has multiple children may prioritize one child over the rest. This child may have skills that their siblings do not have. They shower this child with praise while neglecting everyone else. 

The prioritized child may have mixed feelings about this. They may feel guilty that they are receiving more praise than the other children. They may become confused when they don’t receive praise at school or at work. 

Their siblings may lose self-esteem. They may distance themselves from the prioritized child, forming a rift in the family. 

The Abusive Parent 

Not all parents with NPD are necessarily abusive. Yet there are parents whose narcissism leads them to physical and sexual abuse. 

They may regard their children as servants. When they act out of line, they use physical force in order to get their way. They may engage in sexual behaviors with their children due to a lack of empathy. 

Set Your Boundaries 

Once you understand how your narcissistic co-parent is behaving, you can understand how you should behave. Unless your co-parent is abusive to you or your children, you should interact with them. Remaining in communication will make things like dividing school-related expenses easier. 

Yet you do not have to be in constant communication with your ex. Establish times during which you will not talk to them, even if they reach out to them. 

Establish what you will and will not talk about. You can limit your conversation to the welfare of your child or to finances. You can avoid talking about everything else. 

You are not obliged to speak to your co-parent if you both attend an event. Make it clear to them that you will not communicate with them at the venue. If they try to talk to you, say something like, “I don’t want to talk with you right now, but I hope you have a good night.” 

If you do meet with your co-parent, bring someone with you. They can monitor the conversation and end it if it stops being productive. 

If your co-parent has a partner, your boundaries should apply to them. You should not communicate with them unless something requires their attention. You should also avoid talking to your co-parent’s family members, including their parents and siblings.

They may become a stepmom or stepfather to their partner’s child. It is not your place to intervene with that relationship. Focus on your own child. 

Split Custody With a Good Parenting Plan 

All separated parents need to make a parenting plan. This will make co-parenting far easier and create a smoother separation process. 

You can follow most traditional tips for writing a parenting plan. You should have conversations with your ex during which you break down aspects of parenting. You should decide how you will divide parenting time and important responsibilities. 

You can talk to a lawyer. You can also find a mediator or a third party who will help you come to a mutual consensus. If you do not want to talk directly to your ex, you can have your attorney talk on your behalf. 

Keep the priority on your child. Figure out where they are going to live and attend school. Devise ways of covering their expenses, including food and clothing. 

If you do not want your co-parent to have custody, you should stand your ground. Go to court and propose options for a visitation schedule.

You can also divide physical custody while you have full legal custody. You can receive spousal or child support if you need it. 

Consider Parallel Parenting 

Parallel parenting is the best parenting model for divorced parents who don’t want to see each other. It is good for any situation involving a co-parent who has a mental illness. 

Both parents will be involved in raising their children. One parent may have visitation rights only.

Yet the two interact on limited occasions. They may see each other when one parent drops off the child. They may communicate with each other during an emergency. 

But that is the full extent of their interactions. One parent raises the child their way, and the other raises them their way. In effect, each parent serves as a single mom or a single dad. 

Parallel parenting will prevent your narcissistic co-parent from harming you. Yet you should be attentive to your child. If it seems like your co-parent’s parenting style is harming your child, you should intervene. 

Be Calm

Many people with NPD like to feed off other people’s emotions. They may instigate a conflict just to make the other person upset. This is especially the case with people they do not like. 

Do not take the bait that your co-parent is throwing out there. When they make a comment you do not appreciate, take a deep breath and respond without emotion. 

Never make a personal attack on your co-parent. Yelling at them may escalate the situation.  

When you need to let emotions out, you should do so. Once you are done talking with your co-parent, head outside and find some catharsis. 

Dodge Narcissist Triggers

A person with NPD may become triggered. A stunt they made for attention may have gone unnoticed. Someone may have caught them breaking a rule, or they may have suffered a setback in their personal life. 

This can cause their symptoms to become worse. They may fly into a rage, threatening other people and using violence to get their way. This rage can occur with minimal warning. 

Make sure you do not trigger your narcissistic ex. Do not bring up anything personal in your conversations with them, especially about their romantic life.

Whenever you are concerned about the welfare of your child, you should contact someone. You do not have to call the police if you don’t want to. You can ask a friend, relative, or crisis center to check in to make sure everything is okay. 

Affirm Your Child 

Don’t let your co-parent distract you from your child. Spend plenty of time with them. Engage in their hobbies and help them with their schoolwork. 

Praise your child when they do something right. But console them if something goes wrong or if they make a mistake. Work with them on how they can improve their skill so they don’t make the same mistake again. 

If they do something wrong, you can discipline them. But don’t go over the top. You can give them a timeout, but don’t take away food or water from them. 

You can have conversations with your child about their well-being. Yet you should not make it about the co-parent. Ask them to focus on themselves, their feelings, and their health.

Be attentive to the signs of child abuse. Contact someone if you notice several signs in any child, including ones you don’t have custody of. 

Think About Counseling 

Parenting in and of itself is stressful. Delegate plenty of time for self-care. Attend to your hobbies, talk to your friends, and find personal fulfillment in some way. 

You can talk to a mental health counselor if you find you have a lot of stress. Come up with some solutions to handle your personal problems. Devise some tips to cope with your anxiety

You may need to take medications. This does not make you weak. Medications can mitigate your symptoms and help you become a better parent. 

Do not recommend that your co-parent get counseling. They may take this as a sign of disrespect. But you can recommend counseling to other family members who may benefit from it. 

Deal With a Narcissistic Co-parent

You can split custody with a narcissistic co-parent. They may come across as arrogant, haughty, and self-centered. This can lead them to neglect or even abuse a child. 

Enforce hard boundaries with your co-parent. Avoid personal or emotional conversations with them. This has the added benefit of avoiding narcissistic triggers. 

Draft a good parenting plan and consider parallel parenting. Affirm your child and make sure they are doing well. Get yourself self-care so you combat your anxiety. 

Find resources that will help you and your children. 2houses provides great guides and online apps. Create an account today. 

3 Ways to Support Your Child Going to A New School After Divorce

Going to A New School After Divorce

Divorces can be extremely hard on the whole family, but the effects they have on children might worry you much more than those they have on you. In such cases, it’s important that both parents put their differences aside and do what they think is best when it comes to their children. Aside from having to adjust to not living with both of their parents any more and moving from their home and everything they were familiar with, one of the main issues is how the child will get accustomed to their new school. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to support them through this challenging period of their lives. Here is some precious advice for making this transition smoother on your children.

Prepare Them for Talking About the Divorce

One thing your child might be very concerned about is how to tell their friends and colleagues about their current family situation. When it comes to smaller children, keep in mind that they don’t usually know how to hide facts and that they might overshare. Similarly, you can expect your teenagers to let some of their new peers in on details you would rather keep to yourself. This isn’t something you should get angry about. Instead, expect it and find time to talk to your children about the divorce and all of the issues they are confused about. After all, it might be a good thing that they trust somebody enough to discuss their thoughts and feelings. Still, let them know that their schoolmates may be curious about the divorce or separation, that they should politely decline answering any personal questions they’re not comfortable with and suggest how they can do it. Perhaps you can teach them how to redirect the conversation. Ask them what they’re ready to share with other children and mention things that may be inappropriate to tell others. Talking to your child can help them filter out what they should say or not, but it lets them know they can come to you with anything that’s bothering them and allows them to cope with any anxiety, fear or anger.

Show Interest in Their School Success

Another thing you should address is the child’s school obligations. While the divorce may be difficult on them, it’s still important that they stay as focused on their schoolwork as possible. Elementary-school children can benefit a lot from you sitting down and explaining anything they don’t understand or hiring tutors for some of their subjects. On the other hand, teenagers might not be as clingy as the smaller children, so you should put some effort into finding other ways to help them keep up with their curriculum. If they have trouble concentrating in class and they’re too distracted to take coherent notes, there are some excellent online resources you can refer them to. For example, Australian students rely on the systematic UOW notes. This is probably because these were written by students who have already taken the courses and understand the requirements of the subjects in question. UOW prides in being one of the top public universities with regards to undergraduate student experience, which means a lot to teenagers, making these notes something your children can turn to improve their grades and have better comprehension of their curriculum. 

Talk to Their Teachers

When your child is at school, they need to know they can rely on their teachers for anything they need. However, in order for teachers to truly be there for your child, they need to have as much insight into your child’s current state of mind, which means that they should be informed of the divorce or separation and how your child is taking it. Not only will that make it easier for the teachers to approach your child with the right kind of teaching method and give them proper guidance, but they’ll also be more understanding if something is out of order. Plus, this way the teachers can monitor your child’s behavior more closely and let you know if there’s anything you should be aware of. Finally, in case your child is still young enough to go to school and come back home on their own, you should let the teachers know who’ll be there to pick them up on any particular day or who they should call if there’s an emergency.

Having your children’s back is one of your main jobs as a parent and it becomes an imperative in such trying situations as going through a divorce. So, armor yourself with patience and love and be there for anything and everything they might need, so that they know they’re just as much loved and appreciated as they’ve always been.

Back to School: Tips for Easier Co-Parenting Relationship

Tips for Easier Co-Parenting Relationship

According to a meta-analysis of 33 studies conducted by psychologist Robert Bauserman, children of divorced parents tend to be more well adjusted when there is a joint custody agreement rather than a sole custody agreement. Many parents who are getting divorced choose to pursue a joint custody agreement, both for the wellbeing of the child and because they both desire to be involved in their child’s life.

Joint custody can allow a child to grow up with the influence of both of their parents. However, it can also create a logistical puzzle to figure out when you factor in work schedules, school schedules, and more.

As the summer comes to a close and school starts back up again, the rhythm of your child’s life will change. This means that your co-parenting relationship will have to shift to accommodate this change.

Are you wondering what you can do to make your co-parenting easier during the back-to-school time? We’ll discuss a number of tips including how a co-parenting app can help keep your schedule and communications organized.

Have Strong and Consistent Communication

It’s important that both parents are informed about their children’s health, academics, and social developments. For this reason, weekly communication should be established.

There are a number of different ways to regularly and frequently communicate regarding your child’s schooling. There isn’t necessarily a right way to do it, but it is important to establish an understanding of the communication avenues for this purpose.

Depending on your relationship with your co-parent, some communication tools might be more appropriate than others. E-mail, texting, and phone calls might be appropriate ways to stay in touch about how your child is doing in school. You can also utilize a co-parenting app to help streamline communication and reduce confusion and disorganization.

Build a Structured Schedule

Building a structured schedule is important both for divorced parents and for their children. For parents, it helps both people keep track of the child’s activities. For children, it helps give them a sense of routine, security, and certainty that is an important part of healthy child development.

When you have a set and agreed-upon schedule, it helps everyone involved understand what is expected of them. Rather than dealing with constant confusion over misunderstood expectations, a structured schedule makes it clear where and when each person is supposed to perform certain duties.

It is completely fine to have a flexible schedule if that works best for the parents and the child. Allowing for flexibility can be important because work schedules can differ and because life can be unpredictable. However, in order for there to not be holes or mistakes made, communication is key.

One of the ways that you can reduce miscommunication in this regard is by using an interactive calendar that allows both parents to schedule and manage changes while eliminating time clashes.

Be Present For School Activities and Events

Even if you and your co-parent have difficulties in getting along, it’s important to be able to come together when it comes to school events and activities. Whether these are sports games, spelling bees, science fairs, school plays, or any other kind of school-related activity, it’s ideal for both parents to attend and show their support for their children.

During this time, it’s important to put the needs of your child first. However, if you and your ex aren’t able to sit together without getting into an argument, you might choose to sit separately to avoid relationship drama seeping into your child’s activity.

Be Attentive During Homework

One of the most important roles a parent plays for a school-age child is to be there when your child needs help with something, including homework. During the time when your child is living with you, take the time to sit down with them and learn what they’re working on and if they have questions.

When you do this, you are demonstrating that you are there to help in all parts of their lives. It can also be good to coordinate with your co-parent about how you plan to help with their schooling.

Don’t Let Drama Impact Your Child’s Academic Life

Divorce can be difficult in many respects, and it isn’t uncommon for there to be hard feelings between co-parents. That being said, it’s important to ensure that the issues between the two of you don’t impact your child’s academic life or overall wellbeing.

You don’t want your child to be distracted from their studies by relationship drama. For this reason, it’s essential that you and your ex are on the same page when it comes to your child’s social and academic needs. When both parents are engaged, it gives the child an important experience of security.

Coordinate Ahead of Time

One of the best ways to avoid conflict and confusion when it comes to co-parenting a school-aged child is to be on the same page. This means coordinating the details ahead of time. When it comes to parent-teacher conferences, school supplies, and how information will be exchanged, you will want to create an outline and understanding ahead of time.

You will need to create routines for things like extra-curricular activities, pickups and drop-offs, inclement weather, and emergency scenarios.

There are always going to be events in life that you can’t anticipate and plan for. However, you can leave a lot more room for dealing with this type of event by being organized and realistic about routine activities ahead of time.

The better able you are to plan for potential contingencies down the road, the fewer confrontations or miscommunications will occur.

Discuss the Cost of School Supplies

When you are splitting custody of your children, there is obviously a financial aspect to be taken into account. You should be considerate of how the costs of school supplies will be dealt with ahead of time. The last thing you want is for your child to need something for school and for the process to be derailed by confusion or conflict.

Talking about this ahead of time also ensures that your child doesn’t end up with duplicate supplies or isn’t missing particular things they need.

Take a look at this article for more tips on keeping track of shared expenses.

Meet Teachers Together

Ideally, it is best for both parents to get to know the teachers of their children. You can also take this opportunity to let teachers know about your family’s living arrangements and situation.

Divorce can be hard on children, and this can sometimes manifest itself in emotional outbursts, behavioral problems, learning challenges, and more. When you are straightforward with their teachers about what is going on at home, it opens a door of communication and keeps them informed. This also means that you might be better equipped to stay on top of any issues as they are arising.

Disclose Information

In a co-parenting situation, it’s important that both parents are aware of all of the details of a child’s academic life. This includes information about afterschool activities, major projects, grades, and lunch menus. You can help make the job of co-parenting easier for both of you by sharing copies of important deadlines and schedules, which can keep you both up to speed.

Create a Shared Calendar

One great tool that can help make it easy to share information and schedules is a shared calendar. This can also reduce direct communication between you and your ex, which might help to reduce the opportunity for conflict if there are still relationship issues that haven’t been worked out.

How to Increase Your Chances of Co-Parenting Success

One study found that children who are raised by co-parents that work cooperatively together have fewer behavioral issues. These children also tend to have closer relationships with their fathers than kids who are raised by a single parent or hostile co-parents. Here are a few tips to help you increase your chances of success when it comes to co-parenting.

Let Go of the Past

It’s important to never vent your frustrations about your ex to your child. These feelings are best shared with a therapist or close friends or family members. If you have nothing but contempt for your ex, it will be very difficult to successfully co-parent.

Keep the Focus on the Child

The most important thing for you to focus on in the present is what is best for your child. It can be difficult to move beyond past relationship issues but being unable to do so can take the focus away from what matters most.

Communicate

Good communication is absolutely essential as a part of co-parenting. Some guidelines you will want to follow include:

  • Be respectful, clear, businesslike, and concise when you are communicating
  • Keep email and texting communications brief and to the point
  • Set and stick with boundaries you have set up about the appropriate time of day for sending messages to one another
  • Communicate directly if possible rather than through an intermediary
  • Be cooperative when you are in communication

So much confusion, pain, and difficulty can be created when we fail to communicate clearly and with good intentions. For this reason, it’s essential to focus on sticking with these guidelines and the guidelines you’ve set with your co-parent.

Listen Actively

Communication has two halves: one is speaking and one is active listening. Work to make sure that your co-parent feels both heard and understood. Be sure to avoid interrupting them when they speak and take turns speaking.

It can be helpful to repeat what your co-parent said in your own words after they have spoken. You can then ask if you understand correctly what they have said. This helps ensure miscommunication doesn’t occur.

Work Together and Support One Another

For the best interest of your child, it’s important that you learn to work together. Mutually agreed-upon rules should be abided by. These include things relating to bedtime, curfew, screen time, diet, or other aspects of life.

Plan Ahead For Vacations and Holidays

Co-parents can struggle with dealing with vacation and holiday time. However, these times of the year can be made much easier by planning ahead of time and good communication.

It’s best to always give as much notice in advance as possible when it comes to these plans. When you are traveling with your kids, give your co-parent contact information so they will know where you are and how to reach you.

It’s good to practice consistency when it comes to holidays, too. If your child usually spent Thanksgiving with your ex’s side of the family and Christmas with your side of the family before you split up, it’s best to keep the routine the same if possible.

Check out this article for helpful information about creating a schedule for the summer.

Be Willing to Compromise

Compromise is just as important in a co-parenting relationship as it was when you two were still together. It’s always best to work towards a solution that you can both live with when you don’t agree on an issue.

Are You Looking For the Right Co-Parenting App?

When you start a co-parenting relationship, it can seem difficult and overwhelming at first. However, many of the issues that can crop up can be mitigated by organization and communication. Putting in the time and effort to come up with a plan that works for both of you as well as for your child can go a long way.

Staying organized can be one of the biggest challenges when it comes to co-parenting. Using a co-parenting app can be a major help when it comes to removing stress from a two-house arrangement. If you’re looking to improve communication and organization between you and your co-parent, learn more about 2houses here.

Out-of-State Custody Arrangements: Creating a Workable Agreement

Out-of-State Custody Arrangements

Did you know that in 2018, America had roughly 780,000 divorces? That’s about one divorce every 60 seconds!

Consequently, this adds a lot of heartache due to things such as split custody, lawyer fees, and emotional turmoil. Nobody wins in a divorce. However, the ones who usually suffer the most are children.

This is because kids don’t fully understand what’s happening; they can’t quite comprehend the shifts taking place. This is further compounded when moving states and split custody enter the picture.

But, even in the midst of such tragedy, there is hope. The opportunity for a better tomorrow lies beyond the struggles of today.

And while painful, the sting of divorce can be somewhat soothed when split custody schedule ideas and agreements are introduced.

As a result, parents and kids can maintain their relationships with one another. In this article, you will get split custody schedule ideas to help you cope with your divorce.

What is Split Custody?

Split custody is the arrangement for your children following a divorce. Who goes where and for how long?

For example, after a divorce, your child may live with their mother during the school year but then move in and live with you for the summer months.

Split custody is a mutual agreement decided on by the parents and then approved by the courts. Or if the parents are unable to agree, a judge will come to a conclusion for both of them.

Split Custody Schedule Ideas

If your divorce has separated you from your kids by a few states, don’t fret. You have options.

You can set up a split custody schedule for long distances; this kind of arrangement will keep everyone happy. Here are a few things to keep in mind for how to do it.

Travel Expenses

How will your child reach your home? What kind of transportation did you have in mind?  Furthermore, who will cover the cost? You? Your ex-spouse? Or will you divide it between the two of you?

Parents Visiting From Out of State

You could also reach an agreement with your ex-spouse to come to visit your child or vice versa. Your ex-spouse could also come to your neck of the woods, too. This is good for a multitude of reasons.

First, it prevents your child from always bouncing back and forth. That’s not good for their mental health. Second, it keeps the custody arrangement from becoming too lopsided.

And last, it fosters stability in your child when they see their parents acting amicably toward each other.

Holidays, Vacations, and Special Occasions

A good idea you could ponder is to set up visiting arrangements around your kid’s schedule. Ponder your child’s life.

For example, consider summer vacations, Christmas holidays, fall and spring breaks, Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays, and long weekends. These are prime times for a workable split custody schedule.

By taking into consideration your child’s arrangements, you can plan get-togethers that will result in better experiences.

In the same way you have priorities in your life, your child also has obligations as well. They may not be on the same scale as yours, but your kid still has them nonetheless.

So it’s important to plan around them when it’s most convenient for your young one, and the best times to do that are during holidays and special occasions.

Communicate

You always want to stay in touch with your child, and not just when making plans. If you’re the removed parent, put in the effort to keep the lines of communication open as often as possible.

Whether it’s through a phone call, a casual text message, or a Zoom meeting, try to keep in touch. This is important for keeping the bond intact, and as a result, strengthening the relationship.

More Long Distance Schedule Ideas

When living out of state, your child lives with your ex-spouse and visits you. For this reason, it’s good to have as many ideas as possible to make seeing your child effortless.

So here are a few more things to consider:

  • Living Arrangements – Your child can live with you one part of the year and move in with the other parent for the next
  • Monthly Visits – You allow for visitation monthly on each long weekend (most months have at least one long weekend)
  • When School is Out – Whenever school break commences, the out-of-state parent gets the child
  • Undetermined – When you and your child’s schedules match up, you visit each other

Mix and match these choices as much as you see fit. Each one provides flexibility for both parent and child.

Age Considerations

It’s also important to factor in your child’s age, as this will play a role in your split custody schedule. Younger kids who aren’t in school have more free time, but this changes once they get a bit older.

Middle school kids and teenagers usually have friends, classes, and other extracurricular activities. As a result, it’s important to adjust your schedule appropriately.

In addition, some teenagers may even have a job already; it’s common for kids to start working around that age.

The primary goal is to create a schedule that works for everyone, especially the kids. You don’t want to interrupt their lives too much with the out-of-state moves.

Therefore, it’s crucial to keep a pulse on what’s happening in their lives and actively communicate with each other.

Cooperation is Needed For Out-of-State Moving

Whether you’re moving or your ex-spouse is, it’s important you’re on a similar wavelength. You must be on the same page. With the two of you on good terms, this will give you some leeway in your visitation plans. 

Besides, out-of-state schedule planning is hard, so everybody has to cooperate and be on board for things to work. 

The Importance of a Split Custody Agreement

Try finding common ground with your former partner. Just because you split doesn’t mean you can’t still be amicable with them. In fact, the whole idea behind split custody is to find that meeting point. 

Settling child custody disputes in a polite and good-natured way will make everybody’s lives easier, especially your kids’.

With this in mind, coming to an agreement with your former partner should be the main objective. A good split custody agreement will ensure that everyone’s needs are met. This allows for cohesion to take place.

Which State Makes the Final Call?

Excluding Massachusetts and Vermont, all states adhere to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJA).  This entails that the choice of where the child resides comes from the state where the child was born.

For instance, if the child was born in Texas, but then moved to Florida, then Texas would have the authoritative entity.

But there’s always an exception to every rule, and this one is no different. One exception is if your child needs to be taken away due to security concerns. 

To illustrate, if your ex-spouse was unfit to care for your child and you were living out of state, that would be grounds for your child’s removal. The non-home state may be deemed as your child’s new residence.

Ways to Change Visitations and Custody Arrangements

There is a simple method to change your custody agreement. Talk it out with your former partner. In spite of anything you’ve heard, this is usually the simplest course of action.

Once you clear everything and the two of you are in agreement, get it approved by the courts. If you’re on good terms with each other, this shouldn’t be a problem. 

However, that may not always be the case, especially if your divorce was rather hostile. In that scenario, you’d appeal to the court to have a trial so that a judge can settle the dispute.

Dealing With Logistics

This is important. Managing the distance comes down to having the details of your child’s travel plans sorted out. And the good news is, you have options with this as well. 

Here are a few choices to consider that can be quite helpful in solving this logistics problem.

Negotiate

Generally speaking, the parent who moved pays for the child’s travel. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be compromises. On the contrary, coming to a mutual agreement with your former partner can be easier than you think.

Travel expenses can add up quickly, even for a young child. There is the plane ticket, car rides from the airport, trains, Ubers, or even buses. By negotiating with your ex-spouse, you can work out a deal.

Maybe you can cover certain schooling or other types of expenses for your child down the line. This will more than make up for the financial favor you’re asking for upfront.

Fly Alone Programs

Otherwise known as unaccompanied minor programs, these are tailored to kids who are too young to fly solo. 

The program offers an airline worker to accompany and safeguard your child during the flight. The employee will watch your child from when one parent drops them off until the other picks them up. 

Most airlines offer this service, so you shouldn’t be hardpressed to find one that can help you. But be sure that you’re checking beforehand just to be safe. 

Sustaining a Long-Distance Relationship

Always remain in contact with your children. Even if it’s only a weekly or bi-weekly chat, do it.

When it comes to relationship sustainability, especially with children, something is always better than nothing.

And for the purpose of maintaining the connection with your kids, this is a necessity.

Here are a couple of pointers to keep in mind:

Digital Chats

Everything is conducted online these days. Why not use the same medium to connect with your children? There are plenty of ways to do this; you can use Zoom, Skype, or even your own phone.

With Facetime, WhatsApp, and other face-to-face communication methods, you can always be in touch with your kids.

As a result, you can maintain that connection until you see each other in person again. 

Emotional Support

Encourage your child to contact you whenever something interesting happens. Big or small, it doesn’t matter.

Of course, this will depend on both of your schedules.

However, by encouraging this open communication, it creates the conditions for your child to feel your unwavering love and support.

If your child knows they can contact you for anything, and you’ll always be there, it strengthens your emotional bond. This will cause you to feel like a pillar in their life, and they’ll feel loved and connected to you. 

Start a Ritual

Develop some kind of tradition or routine with your child when they are in town. This builds excitement in kids.

For instance, every time your child visits you, you could take him or her to their favorite restaurant, go to the cinema to watch a new release, or even just go for ice cream.

Show your youngster that your place is not only stable but also fun and refreshing. As a result, it will solidify your child’s fondness for you, and they’ll look forward to visiting every time.

Make Your Out-of-State Custody Agreement Work

Whatever the condition you’re in following your divorce, it’s important to make the most of it. Keep your head up. With a good attitude and cordial communication with your ex, you can turn things around.

And by doing so, find a way to make your out-of-state split custody agreement work for you.

If you enjoyed this article but still feel as if you need extra assistance, don’t hesitate. Be sure to sign up today and join 181,590 other families in 170 countries that we’ve helped so far. 

We look forward to serving you.