How Can Parental Separation Impact Language Development?

parental separation

Children can develop intense anxiety or insecurities when they are in traumatic or stressful situations. such as: 

  • Living in a high conflict environment (e.g., parents frequently fighting, yelling, etc.)
  • Loss of daily contact with a parent (e.g., one parent moves out)
  • Having to quickly adjust to a new life-style (e.g., child quickly moves out of home) 

When these instances happen, kids may become withdrawn to shut out the unpleasant situations or to hide the feelings they experience. Some children may feel shame or feel as though they are at fault. These feelings can become bottled up inside, leading to further withdrawal or anxiety. The feelings may be overwhelming and the child may be unsure what to do or how to express them. 

A child may decline to interact with the parent who has moved out. They may not talk to other family members, withdraw from their friends etc. Children adopt coping mechanisms such as withdrawal for protection from rejection and feelings of inadequacy. 

Developing language problems can follow when children withdraw, hide, keep their feelings in, or decline to interact with others. 

Developing Speech and Language Problems Also Depends on Other Factors

In addition to the parental situation, a child’s age, gender, socioeconomic status, and the number of siblings they have can also impact language development. 

Additionally, while research suggests that divorce or separation can affect a child’s language skills, the extent depends on various other factors.For instance, talking to your children openly about the changing family situation and welcoming questions takes away some fear and anxiety. But, even an explained absence of a parent can be very stressful for a small child, possibly causing  them to shut down. 

Parents Will Want to Handle the Separation Carefully

Although it is hard to work through your disagreements in the early days of the separation, you want to protect your kids and create an atmosphere of love and support. Easing the children gently into the new family lifestyle helps. As an example you may need to tell them that now daddy will be driving them to school or taking them to doctors’ appointments. Or they may need to know that they will be  spending every other week with each parent. It is helpful if everyday activities like reading to the kids at bedtime maintain normalcy and security. Research indicates that children benefit from consistency in their daily lives. 

Both Parents Should Contribute to Supporting Children’s Development

During or after separation, both parents need to be supportive to the child and be on the look out for any delays which may suggest the need for an evaluation:

Children should be developing the following skills between ages two and three:

  • stringing two to three words into sentences 
  • learning to say their first name
  • identifying themselves with the word “I”
  • dressing up
  • jumping in one place
  • learning to write by drawing vertical lines and circles
  • coloring

If you notice delays, please schedule an evaluation to have your child’s needs assessed. If you are in the United States you can request an evaluation at your child’s school, early intervention office, or at a private clinician’s office such as a developmental pediatrician, speech-language pathologist, child psychologist, neurologist, etc.   

Focus on Balancing Living in Two Homes

Therapy can be more challenging when kids are spending time between two households. Parents can help by making an effort to coordinate sessions and keep each other updated about the child’s progress. Parents can use a shared platform where they can communicate with the therapist to get instructions on how to practice sounds and continue with any other exercises. Considering that speech therapy works best with repetition, both parents should stay informed about the sessions. 

The effects of parental separation do not need to get in the way of your child’s cognitive development or language abilities. Parents should offer love and support and focus on raising children responsibly, even if they’re growing up in two different households. 

This article was written in collaboration with Better Speech. Better Speech has helped thousands of children and families. They are committed to providing affordable, convenient, and effective online speech therapy for kids and adults. Their clients are matched with the best therapist for their needs and get affordable therapy at the comfort of their home, when it’s convenient for them (even on weekends or evenings). 

What Does Gaslighting Look Like?


In the US alone, a couple gets divorced about every 36 seconds. This amounts to 2,400 divorces each day. If you’re going through a tough time, you can at least know that you’re far from alone!

One of the common reasons for divorce is emotional abuse. Navigating this dynamic between yourself and your abuser can make an already difficult situation even trickier. However, in order to navigate it, you’ll need to first figure out whether or not your situation truly is one of gaslighting.

That’s why we’re here today to talk about gaslighting, what it looks like, and how you can get help. Read on for some help in identifying whether you’re a victim of gaslighting and what you can do to overcome your pain. 

What Is Gaslighting?

In the simplest terms, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that has to do with making the victim question their sanity. The abuser slowly and covertly will plant seeds of doubt in the mind of the victim. This will cause the victim to believe that they are misremembering things or making up things that didn’t happen.

Generally, this abuse tactic is a way for the abuser to remain in control. They make light of the victim’s beliefs and reassert that the gaslighter is stable while the victim is not.

One of the main gaslighting tactics is denying that something has occurred. For example, if the victim remembers the gaslighter saying or doing something harmful, the abuser may deny that this happens. They will convince the victim that they’re misremembering things and being a bad person that paints the gaslighter negatively.

If the abuser doesn’t flat-out deny that these situations happened, they may belittle the victim in other ways. A gaslighter may treat you like you’re blowing events out of proportion. They want you to think that your emotional reactions are too intense and that you are crazy for ‘overreacting.’

Sometimes, an abuser will stage dramatic and strange events surrounding you and your relationship. These events are meant to disorient and confuse you. Many times the abuser will also swoop in and ‘save’ you from this event that they caused in the first place. They will use this occurrence to prove that they are actually a nice person and are the only thing standing between you and more problems.

What Are Some Examples of Gaslighting?

Gaslighting comes in a lot of forms. However, the main examples of gaslighting come in the form of things that an abuser tells you. Some common examples of things that a gaslighter says include:

  • “You’re overreacting, you overreact to everything.”
  • “You just love to throw me off track.”
  • “I was just joking! You’re so sensitive.”
  • “You always are so dramatic.”
  • “No one believes you, so why should I?”

All of these phrases are red flags that gaslighting may be taking place.

Another example of gaslighting is when an abuser flat-out lies to you about a situation that happened.

For example, let’s say that your partner orders something online with a credit card that you never said they could use. They may say something like “you said I could borrow it and pay you back later, so I did.”

If you try to tell them they’re misremembering, they will become angry. You may not say anything at all. If you do, they may become angry and yell at you. This can cause you to question whether or not you actually remember things correctly.

Some gaslighting may seem like less of a big deal.

Let’s say that your partner loves brownies, so you decide to be nice and surprise them with a homemade batch. Your partner gets home and says, “I don’t really like brownies, but I do love cookies! That must be what you’re remembering. Well, next time!”

This may seem like a minor occurrence, but it’s part of a painful pattern. Your gaslighter is breaking you down and getting you to question reality in many ways. Even a seemingly innocuous occurrence like this is a big deal and should be taken seriously if you notice it.

What Are the Warning Signs?

In addition to these common phrases and persistent lying, there are also other signs of gaslighting. Many of these have to do with your feelings and behavior, but these changes are not your fault. Read on for some signs of gaslighting that you need to know so that you can better identify abuse.

You’re More Anxious, Depressed, and Isolated Than Usual

While mental health issues can stem from many factors, they are often a sign of gaslighting. This is because a gaslighter:

  • Knows how to make you blame yourself
  • Creates elaborate scenarios to prove their devotion to you
  • Tries to constantly keep you on your toes (a.k.a. anxious!)
  • Dismisses your feelings of unhappiness and guilt
  • Refuses to validate what you are going through
  • May keep you away from other loved ones (for fear that they see through their manipulations)

As you might imagine, all of these factors may make you feel alone and depressed. If you begin to notice your mental health deteriorating, it may be a good idea to assess your situation.

While worsening mental health isn’t always a sign of gaslighting, gaslighting almost always leads to mental health problems.

You Find Yourself Apologizing a Lot

One of the main side effects of anxiety is that you end up apologizing often. This is a concrete way that you can measure your self-doubt and anxiety. Much of the time, you’ll just be apologizing for existing because you’re scared. This should never happen, and it’s a sign of serious relationship problems.

If you notice that you have been apologizing persistently, take an objective look at the situation. Did you actually do anything to apologize for? Do you remember doing that thing?

If the answer to either of these questions is ‘no,’ you may be a gaslighting victim.

Many times, other loved ones will alert you to your excessive apologizing. Don’t brush these concerns off, but look inward and figure out why you are apologizing.

You’re Making a Lot of Excuses

People who are in abusive (or even just toxic) relationships often find themselves making excuses a lot. These excuses can be to absolve their partner of blame to third parties.

A lot of the time, people will say that it isn’t their partner’s fault that something happened and blame it on external factors. This happens even when external factors aren’t present. Those in toxic relationships want everyone to see only the good in their partner. When you’re being gaslit, this can lead to a lot of difficult lying on your part.

However, these excuses aren’t only things that you tell others. You also may make excuses for your partner’s behavior internally. Some examples are:

  • “She’s only late to events every single time because she is dealing with (possibly nonexistent) family.”
  • “I know that he lies, but it’s because he had a difficult childhood.”
  • “He only hurts me because he loves me.”

These are all thoughts that should give you pause.

Making Decisions is Really Hard

Gaslighters always make you question your decisions. As a result, you may find that making choices is really hard when you’re being gaslit. If you used to be confident in your decision-making skills but no longer are, take a moment to assess why this is the case.

Did someone make you feel that way? Be honest and don’t make excuses.

If the answer is ‘yes,’ it’s time to begin implementing coping strategies. This can help you to bring back your confidence.

How Can You Cope With Gaslighting?

Once you identify that you’re a victim of gaslighting, it’s important that you know what to do about it. Here, we’re going to discuss some ways that you can cope with having been gaslit. Read on for the most important things you can do to help yourself heal.

Don’t Second Guess Your Memory

Gaslighters love to make you question your memory. They love to sow the seeds of doubt until you no longer feel in control of your thoughts or your mind. One of the biggest impacts of this is that you no longer will trust your memory. This makes sense considering that they’ve told you over and over again that it’s failing you.

While it’s easier said than done, the first step towards healing is learning to trust your memory again. If you recall something happening, it probably did.

For a bit of additional validation, keep a daily journal of things that happen. When you begin to doubt something took place, look in the journal. The event will be right there and you’ll immediately have validated yourself!

Getting support from loved ones is critical in the healing process, but affirmation also needs to come from within. Next time you feel like asking another person (such as your gaslighter) to validate a thought or memory, look inward. Take a moment to affirm it for yourself instead of seeking external validation.

Practicing mindfulness is a great way to get in touch with your own mind as well. You’ve been through a terrible ordeal, so it’s only natural that you have a lot of feelings to process.

Let yourself experience both positive and negative emotions. Once you get in tune with these feelings, you can record them in your journal to become more in touch with them. This will teach you to identify and cope with your feelings and become more in touch with your mind and memory.

Stand Up for Yourself

Quashing doubt is a great way to support yourself internally. But what about showing your abuser that you respect yourself? What about eliminating all doubt that your memories, thoughts, feelings, and opinions are valid?

That will take a bit of work. Standing up for yourself is difficult, especially when you live with a gaslighter. However, it’s necessary, and it will likely show your abuser that you aren’t going to stand for their games anymore.

Some examples of things you could say include:

  • “That isn’t how I remember things.”
  • “That happened. I remember it happening.”
  • “Do not lie to me.”
  • “I remember that you said (x) on (y) occasion.”
  • “My feelings and perception of this situation are valid.”

It’s natural that you might struggle with saying these things at the beginning of your healing process. However, a professional can help.

Get Professional Help

No matter what you choose to do about the abuse, professional help for gaslighting is essential. A therapist can help you practice mindfulness and monitor your progress as you learn to validate yourself internally.

A professional can:

  • Help you hold your ground by refusing to take responsibility what the gaslighter has done
  • Ensure that you remember the facts and hold true to your truth
  • Assist you in fighting back on your own terms
  • Help you choose your battles
  • Go over your journal (if you want) and assess progress
  • Provide you with mindfulness activities

If you are forced to co-parent with your former gaslighter, professional help is even more important. A therapist can help you navigate the ins and outs of communicating with them. They also can help you to maintain your sanity when doing so.

Leave ASAP

Assuming that you aren’t already in the process of getting a divorce, you should leave the persistent gaslighter.

Pack up your things, walk out the door, and turn to supportive loved ones. Talk to a therapist. Never look back.

If there are kids involved, however, this may be more of a challenge. You still should separate, though, because your well-being is also a priority. You simply may need some professional tools to help you along.

2house’s platform allows you to communicate with the person you’re separating from about the welfare of your child. It’s optimized to help you organize the care and protect the well-being of your child while still letting you maintain distance from your ex. This distance is a good idea for most separated couples, but when dealing with someone who gaslit you, it’s essential.

Learn More

Being the victim of gaslighting is both painful and challenging. However, if you know where to look for help, you can begin to heal.

We’re happy to discuss your individual situation with you and point you in the direction of professional help. We also have many tools that help you manage your time and communication as you go through a divorce, including calendar, finance, and messaging applications.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

How to Be a Great Co-Parent With an Ex (When You Still Have Feelings)

Co-parenting with someone you still love

Relationships aren’t built overnight. All lovers create a story filled with moments that once had so much meaning. But not all relationships last. 

And once they’re over, sometimes the thought of your ex makes you angry, but sometimes you mourn the loss of your lover. 

This powerplay of emotions is worse if you and your ex have a child together. As co-parents, the two of you are bound together—whether you like it or not.

The fall of a relationship is painful and sad. When there are children in the mix, the situation can become even more emotional, even volatile. 

So, how do you move on from heartbreak and effectively co-parent with an ex?

Keep reading for some tips on managing the conflict and pain associated with a break-up so you can be the best parent to your child.

Take Time to Heal

While some people break up amicably, no break-up is ever mutual. Someone will always be more hurt than the other, even if the decision to end the relationship was a logical one.

If you’re hurting from a breakup, it might feel impossible to raise a child with the one person in the world who loves your child as much as you do. 

It’s essential that you take time to heal.

Usually, a breakup requires space. Taking time away from each other, letting the metaphorical scrapes and cuts heal will slowly make your relationship better. 

You must be okay with lessened contact and communication—aside from the conversations regarding your child. The awkwardness will pass, even if there are negative feelings in the meantime.

You should be kind and supportive to your ex, but it’s acceptable to not be best friends. It doesn’t mean you won’t get there in the future.

What Does Effective Co-Parenting Look Like?

In a healthy co-parenting situation, both parents are involved in the child’s day-to-day life. Co-parents communicate effectively and share the responsibilities of parenting—including the financial, logistical, and emotional ones.

To be a good co-parent, you must communicate respectfully when hurdles come up and work together in the best interest of your child.

In most healthy co-parenting relationships, parents allow each other to express their own parenting style when they are with their child.

Co-parenting doesn’t have a definition—it’s more of a lifestyle. It’s communicating and collaborating with your ex in a way that is peaceful, respectful, fair, and with your child’s wellbeing in mind.

Boundaries Are Essential

It’s common for people to change after a separation. When you are forced to move on from a relationship, you have to unlearn your former partner.

Things that used to be your business aren’t anymore. You don’t have the right to ask personal questions, and you’re not entitled to the answers to the personal questions you do ask.

In the beginning, it’s best to limit any conversation to those about your child. As time goes on and you share endearing or funny stories about your child, you will naturally begin to feel like friends again. Just don’t expect this to come immediately.

Your former spouse doesn’t need to know if you’re going on a date or if you’ve got a new hair cut. They don’t need to know anything that doesn’t pertain to your child, and neither do you. 

Put simply, you’re entitled to your privacy. And so is your ex. Try hard not to blur the lines with your ex. Parenting alone is hard, especially when you’re hurting, but it’s essential to move on and be separate people

Remember That You’re Family

Maybe it doesn’t sound ideal right now, but like it or not, your former spouse will always be family. 

Because you have a child between the two of you, you need to embrace them as family, as well as any new partners that come into the picture. If you can, be friendly and respectful to their new partner. 

At the end of the day, you want your child to look around and be surrounded by people who only want to see them succeed. So, settle in. Do what you can to be together around your child. If the wounds aren’t too fresh, schedule family nights—play games, take walks, keep it light—and make it consistent.

Communicate as a Team

While it might be hard to have conversations with your ex after a difficult breakup, try to take the emotion out of the conversation. Disagreements will arise, and it’s vital to keep heated moments behind closed doors and away from your child. 

If you know you’re going to have a difficult conversation, schedule it in advance and meet at a neutral location. 

And if a conversation can’t wait, only communicate in front of your kids if you can do it wisely. If you’re capable of working things out amicably, it can be good for your child to see you working through a disagreement together. 

Above all, remember never to get personal and be respectful to one another. 

Be Flexible and Accessible

Again and again, you will hear that consistency is key. It’s true, you should strive to make your child feel stable during shaky times. However, you should also be flexible. 

When you request a change to the schedule, give your ex the benefit of the doubt when it comes to forgiveness and scheduling. This means you should switch days when necessary, welcome your ex to family events, and invite them to your child’s important events—even if it hurts to do so.

Always make an effort to stick to the schedule, but be open to change, especially if it’s easy to accommodate. Don’t deny your ex time just to be difficult because one day you might need their kindness in the same situation.

You should also try to be available to your ex, even if your instinct tells you to ignore their attempts at conversation. Don’t inconvenience yourself to take their call every time if you’re not available, but pick up the phone when you can. 

Your child will appreciate seeing the two of you communicating efficiently, respectfully, and kindly. 

Navigate Conversations With Your Child Carefully

It’s absolutely essential that parents don’t speak ill—or allow a third-party to speak negatively—about each other. It’s easy to get nasty and want to get even by insulting your ex behind their back, but the consequences to your child are potentially huge.

Each time you speak negatively around your child about someone else, you’re setting an example for them. You might also be making them feel insecure, as many children see themselves as a blend of their parents. If you and your ex openly hate each other, it drains your child’s self-worth.

When parenting alone, it can be tempting to talk to your children as if you’re friends—discussing adult topics such as parenting plans and money, and throwing ideas at the wall with them. While you should give your children room to make decisions, their freedom to choose should be limited. 

Let your child pick out their clothes, but don’t let them make big decisions such as where they will live and when. Giving a child too much power actually has a negative effect on them—they can begin to feel guilty or anxious

Find a Support Network

When tensions are running high while co-parenting, it’s vital to have a support network to help you navigate difficult times. 

Confide in a friend who can help you see both sides clearly, seek out the advice of a trusted religious leader, or join a supportive Facebook group. 

Whatever is happening in your life, you’re not alone, and you might find comfort in talking to others who are in the same situation.

Use Tech to Your Advantage

Co-parenting and technology go hand-in-hand. When raising kids in two households, technology keeps things easy and interesting. 

For example, you can set up a digital diary for your ex and you to share. Write notes about cute things your child does or funny things they say. Add photos and thoughts from two different perspectives—you can even add voice messages or videos. The possibilities are endless.

You can also take advantage of video-call apps such as Skype, Hangout, and FaceTime. These apps are useful in long-distance co-parenting situations. The long-distance parent can be a part of your child’s daily life. Call them during bedtime or during trips to school in the car.

As your child observes you having conversations about everyday life with your ex, this will ensure him or her that you’re on the same team. They don’t need to know how complicated it is to co-parent—just show them that you’re trying. 

Finally, try installing a co-parenting app that allows you and your ex to coordinate calendars, expenses, schedule switches, and more. By getting organized and staying on top of medical records, child-related finances, and more, you’ll always know what’s around the corner. You’ll be more confident in conversations with your ex if there is a disagreement. 

Get a Co-Parenting Agreement

If you find that you’re having trouble communicating with your ex, try asking an attorney to draft a co-parenting or custody plan. You can also draft one yourself if you feel comfortable doing so. 

Then, you can keep this document between the two of you or file it with the court system. It’s a plan that serves as a friendly reminder that you have promised each other to raise your child in a way that benefits them the most. 

A co-parenting agreement serves as a contract that addresses how both parents should behave toward each other and their children. This is in an effort to raise healthy, happy kids.

What’s Addressed in a Co-Parenting Plan?

If you’re filing for custody, the court may ask for a plan that includes an agreement upon the following issues:

  • Regular time-sharing schedule
  • Holiday and summer time-sharing schedules
  • Child support
  • Payment of child care and extracurricular activities
  • Payment of children’s health insurance and medical expenses
  • Restrictions on how far the parents can live from one another
  • Keeping each parent informed about important issues affecting the child
  • Sharing decisions about religious education

You can tweak a co-parenting plan to include other issues, such as:

  • Access to other relatives
  • Rights of first refusal
  • Use of a shared calendar or co-parenting app
  • Transportation costs
  • Meeting locations
  • Co-parenting communication (i.e. the number of hours each parent has to respond to communication)
  • Time-sharing for life events

If you’re wondering whether something is important to include, you should probably include it. Add anything else you and your ex typically argue about so that it’s clear and in writing to refer to when emotions run high.

Co-Parenting With Feelings Is Possible

At one point in time, you and your ex loved each other enough to have a child together. Sometimes things don’t work out between people, and while that’s unfortunate, it shouldn’t be the end of the world for your child. 

You must embrace the fact that you’re separated and have to maintain a relationship with your ex for the sake of your children. You are bound together forever through the child you made together.

Learn how to let go and be a responsible co-parent so that you can raise a happy child.

2houses is an app that can help you improve your family life by offering various tools and services related to co-parenting success. You can manage shared expenses, use a shared interface to send secure messages, log medical information, and more.

If you need help navigating your co-parenting relationship with your ex, consider downloading 2houses and using it as a hub for all things co-parenting.

The Top 5 Books for Explaining Divorce to Kids and How to Help Them Get the Most Out of Them

Divorce books for children

The primary focus of any divorce with children is to make things as easy for them as possible. There are lots of things to hash out, and it’s likely that you and the other parent will have some disagreements and growing pains as you navigate life as two families instead of one, but keeping the focus on what is in the best interests of the children can help everyone remember what is really the most important thing right now. 

Whether you’ve already told your kids that you’re getting a divorce or you’re still trying to figure out the best way to make the announcement, it can help to have something that shows your children that they aren’t alone in this experience and helps give them the tools to work through their emotions. Thankfully, people who have been through divorces have taken this task very seriously and written some great books that you can read with younger children or give to older teens to help them understand what’s happening and help them through it. We’ve included our favorites below.

1. The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

Divorce book for children

Age Group: Children ages 2 to 4

Number of Pages: 36

Written for younger children, The Invisible String is a book that acknowledges the fears your children may have about being separated from one parent when visiting the other or no longer living with both. It talks about an invisible string that always connects us with the people we love, so even when we aren’t around them physically, we can be sure that they are thinking about us and still love us just as much. 

The illustrations in the book are the main focus, which makes it a good choice for younger children who may aren’t able to read independently yet. Try reading it with your child at first, pointing out the pictures and how they connect to the words and the underlying message. You might encourage some further discussion by asking them what their favorite part about the book was or if there was anything that they didn’t understand or seemed troublesome. This can give you insight into how your child is feeling and what they may be thinking about the separation.

2. Shine: Why Don’t Moon Fairy & Sun Prince Live Together?: A story of unconditional love for the children of separated or divorced parents by Polona Kisovec

Divorce book for children

Age Group: Children ages 6 to 10

Pages: 42

In Shine: Why Don’t Moon Fairy & Sun Prince Live Together? Polona Kisovec takes the reality of divorce and turns it into a fairy tale that shows that sometimes the heroes can’t win all the battles but that their love for their children is something that never changes. The book presents the story of a couple who were in love and happy but then situations changed and they had to adapt, which meant living apart. The story includes some emotions for the main characters, which can be very helpful for children to understand that no one is happy about a divorce and that it’s difficult and emotional for everyone, including the parents.

While this book is also a great choice to read aloud to a younger child, it’s especially well-suited for children who are already independent readers and who many have an interest in fantasy worlds and adventure stories. The illustrations are just as beautiful as the written story and the message of “It’s going to be OK” is one that many children need the opportunity to hear — or read — over and over again during this time.

3. Two Homes by Claire Masurel

Age Group: Children ages 3 to 7

Pages: 40

Two Homes by Claire Masurel has much the same focus on reminding children that they are loved by both parents even if the family isn’t together all the time, but it hones in even more on the idea of having to go from one house to the next. It talks about the differences and similarities between Mommy’s house and Daddy’s house and can help children look for the positives and the good things that come from shared custody and having two homes instead of staying caught in the difficulties and resistance that comes with major change.

This book is a short read with lots of warm, child-friendly pictures and can be a good follow-up tool to address children’s questions about what life in two houses will look like after you’ve already told them the divorce is happening. It can even be helpful to have a hard copy at both houses so that you can both walk your child through the book and point out some of the ways their life is the same as the main character’s.

4. Now What Do I Do?: A Guide to Help Teenagers with Their Parents’ Separation or Divorce by Lynn Cassella-Kapusinski

Divorce book for children

Age Group: Children ages 10 and up

Pages: 174

Helping a tween or teenager through a divorce is very different from reassuring a younger child, but that’s where books like Now What Do I Do? come in. It focuses on presenting the issues that come with divorce and the feelings your teen may be dealing with in a way they can relate to and connect with. It’s centered around helping children identify and put words to the emotions they may be feeling and gives them tools and strategies for coping with those feelings as well as situations that may arise, such as doing holidays separately.

Divorce books for teens and tweens are usually more hands-off when it comes to parental involvement, but it’s still a good idea to let your child know that you realize this is a difficult time for them and that they may prefer to talk to friends or other trusted adults but that you’re still there if they have questions or need anything. You might also want to check back in after they’ve had a chance to read the book and see if anything’s come up that they want to discuss. Don’t be surprised if you get the “it was stupid” or an eye roll. It’s common at this age for children to not want to seem uncool or like they needed help and to downplay how much they might have related to the book and the message.

5. The Divorce Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Move Beyond the Break Up: Activities to Help Teens Move Beyond the Break Up by Lisa Schab

Divorce book for children

Reading about something is good, and getting advice on how to deal with divorce is great, but Lisa Schab takes it to the next level by giving teens an actual workbook to help them deal with the divorce and start moving toward a positive future. The book includes pen and paper activities and worksheets that give teens something to do to start working through their emotions and preparing for life post-divorce. It’s been a favorite of many school counselors and mental health professionals and receives rave reviews for being a practical tool to help teens get through divorce as smoothly as possible.

While this book is very well-rounded and covers all of the various aspects of divorce and how you’re teen may be feeling, the workbook style means your teen will only get out of it what they put in. This may mean that this book is best suited for teens who are actively interested in learning how to cope during this time or as a tool to be used alongside counseling appointments or group meetings for teens whose parents are divorcing.

Talking to Children About Divorce

When you’re talking to your children about divorce, remember that it’s important to present a united front if at all possible. They will likely handle the news better if it comes from both parents saying the same thing at the same time. This also shows that the decision was a joint one, so there’s no need to side with one parent over the other. Communicate what’s happening and how it’s going to affect practical things like living arrangements or school as clearly and concisely as possible, focusing on keeping the details age-appropriate. 

It’s also a good idea to be prepared to have to revisit the conversation. Children may have more questions or concerns as they process the news or may have periods where they are angry or sad. Being open to continued communication about the divorce and the changes it brings can help your children feel like they can talk to you and express their emotions, which will help them better deal with them in the long run.

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6 Common Emotions After a Separation

Common emotions after separation

No matter the reason for it or how amicable it might be, the end of a relationship is a major life change. If you have children involved, you will also have to figure out how not to just end the relations but how to transform it into a different kind that allows you to co-parent. And none of this is easy or intuitive for most people. During this time, it’s normal to experience all kinds of feelings and to sometimes feel like you are being flung from one mood to the next, going through both peaks and valleys as you navigate what your new normal looks like. Here are just a few of the common emotions you might be feeling as you move toward this next chapter of your life. 

1. Grief

The end of a relationship is a loss, even if it was something that you wanted and initiated and that you knew would be a positive life change. And any loss brings grief. This is something that we accept when someone dies, but many people — usually those who haven’t been through a separation or divorce themselves — don’t understand what a loss the end of a relationship can be. 

It’s not always only about the relationship itself, either. In some cases, yes, the other person has asked for a separation when you thought everything was going well and it’s not something that you want. But even if you were the one who decided it was time to move on, there is still the loss for what you had hoped and dreamed and what might have been if things would have worked out differently. And, often, this grief for what might have been is even stronger than the grief over the relationship itself.

Giving yourself permission to grieve fully and actually feel the loss and recognize it for what it is may be difficult, but it is one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself as far as really moving forward without the baggage of the past coming along with you.

2. Uncertainty

Many people who go through a separation find that once the decision has been made, they’re left with a feeling of “well, what now?” Oftentimes, so much energy and time (physically and mentally) go into deciding whether to try to salvage the relationship or move on from it officially that once that particular hurdle has been conquered, it’s not quite clear where to go from there. 

If you’re feeling uncertain about what you want or where your life is going after a separation, you aren’t alone. When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, your wants, needs, desires and preferences have all been intermingled with someone else’s, and it can take some time to start to sort out what’s yours at the end of it. 

However, this can also be a great opportunity to rediscover passions, dreams or goals that you set aside or weren’t able to pursue fully because of your relationship. Maybe you want to move out to the country, downsize to a tiny home, go back to school or switch careers. Viewing this feeling of uncertainty as an opportunity to recalibrate your life instead of a negative emotion to be avoided can bring many positive things to your future and help facilitate your personal growth.

3. Exhaustion

Emotional upheaval is tiring in and of itself, but a separation that involves becoming a new single parent and trying to navigate a new co-parenting relationship is downright exhausting. So, if you’re waking up feeling like you would just like to go back to bed or you stumble into bed at the end of the day thinking “this just isn’t possible,” you’re in good company. 

You might still be reeling from the emotional aspect of the separation, and chances are, you’re suddenly faced with working, taking care of children, keeping the house in livable condition and dealing with all of your children’s emotions and feelings all at the same time and pretty much all by yourself. The good news is that this phase will pass, and you will make it through. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t do anything to ease the exhaustion while you’re in it.

Figure out what fills up your cup. Maybe it’s curling up with a new novel or a funny movie after the kids have gone to bed. Maybe it’s waking up early for a morning run in the peace and solitude of nature. Spend some time thinking about what makes you feel better and like you can handle the day, and then, purposefully carve out time for these activities — even if it means lowering your standards in other areas, such as keeping a perfectly clean house or cooking dinner from scratch every night.

4. Excitement

It may seem odd to say that someone might be excited about a separation, but the truth is that sometimes the end of a relationship is the best thing for everyone involved. It may have come after years of trying to make things work unsuccessfully, and finally being ready to move into that new chapter and accept that some things aren’t meant to be can bring a renewed energy with it. You’re able to better prioritize things in your life you may have put on the back burner, and it may feel like the whole world is fresh and new and full of possibilities.

This is healthy and a positive step forward, but you might encounter some people in your life who don’t feel the same way. For a long time, the end of a relationship was considered a failure and something to be ashamed for. However, we’ve come to realize the importance of mental health over meeting society’s expectations, and this stigma is slowly fading. If you encounter people who aren’t happy for you to be happy, respectfully remind them that you are in charge of your life and making the decisions that are best for you. If someone can’t be happy for you and supportive, you may have to put up some boundaries to maintain your mental health.

6. Relief

If you’ve been struggling in your relationship for a while or have felt like you weren’t moving in the direction for your life that you wanted, being free of it can be a welcome relief. It might feel like a huge weight has been taken off your shoulders. You no longer have to worry about meeting the expectations of your partner or dealing with the challenges of your relationship.

If you were in an abusive or toxic relationship, this feeling of relief may be even stronger. For many people, a separation means not having to walk on eggshells anymore, not having to deal with someone who has a substance abuse issue or just not having to worry anymore about what they’re doing wrong or why they aren’t enough to make the other person happy. 

If you are feeling relief post-separation, take that as a sign that you made the right choice and that the relationship was no longer serving you or your mental health. However, that doesn’t mean that if you don’t feel relief, that doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. Everyone experiences emotions and processes life change differently, and for some, it can take quite a while before they have decompressed enough from the relationship traumas to be able to move forward into this space.

The Takeaway

While many people find that there are common threads to the separation and co-parenting experience and that they experience similar emotions, it’s also important to remember that everyone is unique. You may spend longer in the grief process than your best friend did, or maybe were heavy on the relief and didn’t really experience the exhaustion. Or maybe you experienced other emotions not covered on this list. And that’s OK. Because the separation process — and the emotions that come with it — isn’t a linear journey. Even after you feel like you have finished a certain stage and have moved on to the next, something could happen that could trigger a short relapse back into grief or anger or uncertainty, and this is normal. Remember not to try to compare your journey with your friend’s, brother’s or anyone else’s. 

Whatever the case, the most important thing during this time is to be kind to yourself and to remember that you aren’t alone. Reaching out to friends, family members and other support persons when you start to feel overwhelmed with your emotions can be a healthy way to cope and can help you identify what you need to keep moving forward. There are many mental health professionals out there who specialize in helping those going through divorces or separations get through the process and move into the next stages as smoothly as possible.

Being Friends With Your Ex: How to Make It Work

Being Friends With Your Ex

If you’ve just made the decision to go your separate ways or are currently in the middle of a divorce, being friends with your ex might seem like an impossible task. But studies have shown that co-parents who are able to go beyond basic civility and have open, friendly relationships can make the entire process of divorce and everything that comes after easier on their children. However, this doesn’t mean that learning how to be friends with your ex is easy or something you just naturally know how to do. In this article, we give some tips and strategies on how to set up a friendly relationship from the beginning to help make your co-parenting journey more positive.

Remember Where You’ve Been

When you’re trying to move forward, it’s important to look toward the future, but that doesn’t mean forgetting all about the past as well. One thing that can help you create a more positive friendship with your ex is to consider all of the good things that came out of the relationship. Your children are the biggest thing, but there are likely also others, such as friends that your ex introduced you to or memories of trips or experiences that had a positive effect on your life. 

It can also be helpful to think about what you liked about the other person to begin with. Maybe you loved his sense of humor or you really appreciated the way she was able to look at situations objectively and problem-solve. Keeping these things front of mind when dealing with the other parent can help you remember that this person is more than just an ex and does have qualities that can be positive and helpful in the co-parenting relationship. 

Acknowledge the Grief

While the end of your relationship may have been the best thing for both of you and the children, it’s still a loss, and it’s important to acknowledge that. Nobody likes to feel the sadness, hurt and uncertainty that comes with the end of a relationship, but trying to gloss over it and pretend that everything is OK isn’t healthy and is likely to end up causing problems down the road when all of those pushed-aside feelings finally resurface. 

To truly be friends with your ex, you need to have grieved the end of your romantic relationship so that you can honestly wish them well — even when new significant others come into the picture. It’s important to understand that this takes time, and the longer you were in the relationship, the longer it usually takes to go through the full grieving process. This doesn’t mean that you have to sit and watch sappy movies for weeks on end, but you should focus on being honest with yourself about how you feel, what went wrong, what you’re learning from the experience and how it’s helping you grow moving forward. It can also be helpful to talk to a counselor or other trusted advisor to get an outside perspective. Also, remember that the grieving process isn’t linear. You may feel fine after a couple of months only to be hit by another round a few weeks later. And that’s OK. Just focus on being kind to yourself and open and honest about where you’re at with your feelings to ensure you aren’t ignoring issues or emotions that need to be dealt with.

Define the Boundaries

Boundaries are important in any relationship but especially so when you are trying to turn what was a romantic relationship into a friendship moving forward. Boundaries ensure everyone is on the same page with what your goals are as co-parents and what you want to be able to accomplish together during this season of life focused on your children. Defining these boundaries is the first step. It can also help you make sure that both parties are at a place where they are able to move forward as friends. If one party still has feelings for the other or is still harboring a lot of anger or bitterness over the breakup, it can make a friendship very difficult. 

Consider having a meeting with your ex over coffee so you can discuss your future as co-parents. You might use some of the following points to start off:

  • What decisions should we make together?
  • What issues are we OK with one person making an executive decision?
  • How will we communicate about schedules and issues relating to the children?
  • When do you think it’s appropriate to introduce the children to a new significant other?
  • If one of us remarries, how will that affect our co-parenting relationship?
  • How do you see us celebrating holidays, birthdays and other special events?

It’s important to be honest during these conversations and to leave the door open for future meetings as things progress and the children get older. You may find that something that worked for a while isn’t now and you need to reassess.

Remember that your friendship with your ex doesn’t have to look like someone else’s. Maybe your best friend only talks to her ex when necessary and just waves at pickups and drop-offs, but you would like to go on family vacations together or celebrate holidays as a family. Whatever works for both of you is all that matters. 

Keep Communicating

Once you have had a conversation and have a good idea of what you want things to look like moving forward, it’s important to continue to work on keeping those lines of communication open. You may find that things you thought were going to be OK — like having joint birthday parties — don’t actually work in practice, and it’s perfectly normal for some things to be re-evaluated. You may also find that your co-parenting relationship needs to adapt as the kids get older and start getting more involved in their own lives or have more input into decisions. 

Some families find that scheduling regular check-in style meetings works for them to ensure any issues that come up are dealt with early on instead of pushed to the side and allowed to fester into major problems. Others prefer to just communicate regularly through messages like the tools built in to the 2houses app and address things as they come up. It may take some trial and error to find a system that works for your specific situation.

Don’t Forget the Kids

While it’s always a positive thing for parents to work on their relationship as friends, you’ll need to be aware of how it may look to your children. Divorce is difficult for children no matter the circumstances, and many kids fantasize about the parents getting back together. It’s easy for children to mistake your efforts to get along as friends and put the past behind you as evidence that you are patching things up and might be able to rekindle the romantic relationship. 

While you may not be able to get your children to give up the fantasy of their parents together entirely, letting them know that the two of you are going to be working on your friendship and trying to be more positive in your relationship can help frame things better. For example, if you are planning a family vacation together, you might let your children know that you’ve decided to go on vacation together to save money, but that you’ll have separate rooms. 

Being honest with your children and ensuring that they feel comfortable coming to you with questions or concerns can also help. Consider the following example: You start dating and find someone where things are progressing enough to introduce them to the children. You do, but your child is instantly negative and starts yelling and crying and throwing a tantrum. It may be that this new person arriving on the scene seems like a threat to that fantasy of the parents getting back together. If your child is able to discuss this with you openly and honestly, you can deal with it head on and explain that while you understand why they would like that, it just isn’t going to happen and focusing on the future is the best course of action.

Creating a friendship with your ex can be a very positive and rewarding experience, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s important to be realistic in your expectations — and the timeline for them to happen — and remember that it’s going to be hard work at times. However, that work is almost always worth it when it comes to the positive effect it can have on your children and how they weather separation and divorce. 
To find out more about how you can make the co-parenting journey easy, check out all the features 2houses has to offer and our blog on topics specifically for divorced parents.

Extracurricular Activities and Shared Custody

Shared custody

Whether your child loves soccer or spends every spare minute learning guitar, nurturing their hobbies and interests is important. Extracurricular activities can help your children make friends, learn new skills, build character and give them a place to burn off all that extra energy. Participation in sports and activities can also open up scholarship opportunities for college and ensure that they grow up to be well-rounded individuals who understand that making time for play and fun is just as important as work and responsibility.

Even without a divorce, getting all of the children to all of the activities can be a challenge. Even two-parent families face the problem of not being able to be in two places at once or whose game to attend when practices or tournaments are being held at the same time for different sports in different places. But when you add in shared custody, alternating weekends and trying to determine who pays for what, it adds another level of difficulty. However, this doesn’t mean that your child won’t get to partake in extracurricular activities just because your logistics are a bit more difficult. Understanding the particular challenges that come with shared custody and learning how to navigate them can give you the tools you need to make it work.

How Shared Custody Can Impact Extracurricular Activities

Going from one family to two creates a lot of challenges. You expect to deal with holidays and summer vacation being a bit different or having to always have two copies of all the notices from school, but one area where parents are often surprised at how much shared custody can affect things is with extracurricular activities. Here are just a few of the factors to consider when your child wants to participate in extracurriculars.

Signing Up for Activities

One of the first hurdles that often comes up with shared custody and extracurricular activities is whether or not to even sign the children up for them. It’s not uncommon for parents to want the children to participate in different activities, which can lead to scheduling conflicts. If you want your child to be in the school musical but the other parent wants them to play hockey, and practices are at the same time, only one person can win. In other cases, one parent wants the child to participate in an activity, but the other doesn’t — often because it will mean spending some of their parenting time at practices and games or just because they don’t believe in children having a busy schedule.

This can be a difficult issue to navigate as it often leaves the children in the middle. If you’re finding that you’re having difficulty coming to an agreement, it can help to sit down and explain the reasons behind your requests to the other parent. Maybe this year, the child does the musical and next year, he plays hockey. Just make sure to keep the children out of the decisions, as they may have preferences that should be considered, but you don’t ever want them to feel like they are having to choose sides.

Drop-Offs and Pickups

Extracurricular schedules are known for being intense, especially if you have more than one child. It’s often a race from the end of one practice to the beginning of the other, and there may not be time for a switch from Mom to Dad’s house in between. If you have a good co-parenting relationship with the other parent, it may be a simple matter of adjusting the visitation schedule on the fly as you work out what’s best for the kids and most convenient for the parents. 

However, this can be much more challenging if you are parallel parenting or have difficulty communicating positively with your ex. In these cases, there may not be a lot you can do to make things easier, and you may have to prepare your child to skip a practice that’s being held during the other parent’s time or be willing to give up some of your own parenting time to accommodate the schedule.

Fees and Equipment

While there are many extracurricular programs offered through school and local community programs that are free or low cost, many others can come with hefty participation fees and require specialized expensive equipment. Still others may involve travelling expenses such as hotel rooms for weekend-long tournaments and competitions. This all adds up quickly, and it can be tricky to determine who pays for what. Most parenting agreements don’t detail this by default (although you can have it added), so a lot of it comes down to verbal agreements between the parents, which isn’t always as simple as it sounds.

Family Attendance

One of the best parts about your child participating in extracurricular activities is getting to watch them. However, this isn’t always a simple matter when it comes to two-household families. Maybe you’re fine with sitting with your ex, but you feel awkward around your ex-in-laws. What do you do when your ex brings her new boyfriend? These are all issues that can and do come up, and it can be tense for all the parties involved, including the children. 

If you’re still in the process of divorcing, you may want to consider these factors and see if there’s a way to work some of them into your parenting plan so that there is a clear course of action to follow. For example, you can have added into your parenting agreement that you will split all extracurricular fees 50/50 or that one parent will pay for the participation fees while the other will be responsible for equipment. You can also work into the visitation schedule how transportation to and from practices, games and events will be handled.

Keep in mind that while it can be helpful to have all of this spelled out in writing and able to be enforced by the courts if necessary, it’s not an absolute must. If you have a positive co-parenting relationship and are able to make joint decisions and agree to these things on your own, this can work just as well.

Tips for Making It Work

While the shared custody struggle is real when it comes to extracurricular activities, it’s not something that can be overcome with a few strategies, a joint effort and a positive mindset. Here are our three best practices for making it work. 

1. Prioritize Communication

Communication is key. This is a major theme when it comes to co-parenting, and for good reason. Open and positive communication can go a long way when it comes to working toward joint solutions and problem-solving, and oftentimes, just giving the other parent the heads up and making a civil request can be all you need. It’s important to respect that the other parent has a schedule, needs and wants to work around as well, and by focusing on what works for both of your houses, you’ll be able to stay united as a team and figure out what’s best.

2. Keep the Schedule Handy 

Once you’ve worked out a plan, make sure you put it in writing and where everyone can easily access it. While in a one-household family, this may be as simple as a big wall calendar in the kitchen, but when you’re managing two homes, you need something more adaptable. This is where 2houses comes in. 

The calendar feature on the app lets either parent add an event — along with the who, what, where and when details — so everyone knows exactly where the kids should be and who’s doing the pickup and drop-off without having to actually hold all those details in your mind. The messaging feature also lets you give the other parent a quick heads up if something changes or needs to be adjusted.

3. Focus on Civility

It’s easy to treat your ex as…well…an ex, but this won’t get you far. Instead, try focusing on communicating with and treating the other parent like you would a business client that you really want to keep. This will help you switch from frustration and blaming during a disagreement to a focus on being polite and problem solving. It’s also worth noting that some time there may not be a way to agree or a solution to be had, and if your child has to miss a game or can’t participate in an activity one semester, it won’t be the end of the world even if they may think so. 

What to do about extracurricular activities is just one of many issues that can come up when you have shared custody. Learn more about what to expect as you go from one family to two and how you can move toward positive co-parenting in the 2houses family blog.

Top 10 Powerful Divorce Movies to Help Uncertain Kids

Divorce movies

Watching divorce movies together is an excellent way to broach a topic as potentially fraught as parental separation. Children understand the world from a simple but incredibly emotional perspective, and media can help them to make sense of what’s going on in their lives. The most important way you can help kids understand the separation process is through positive, healthy communication.

It’s useful for children to see characters speak openly about their feelings and effectively resolve challenging emotions in a film. In addition to setting a good example, it’s usually much easier to encourage a teenager or tween to be open about their feelings in an indirect way. You can ask them how they perceive what various people in the story are going for and get a solid understanding of how they feel from their insights. 

Subtle Ways Divorce Affects Children

Divorce affects each child differently, with some seeming to find it easy to adapt to the changes and others showing significant signs of stress. Bear in mind that the child who appears to be coping is still likely to be experiencing negative emotions. In most cases, these kids have learned to mask how they feel — either to protect themselves or other people. If you’re struggling to get your kid to express their feelings, watching divorce movies can be a smart way to find out where their head’s at. 

Age plays a crucial role in determining how the child is likely to respond, with teenagers often being the most varied and challenging in their responses. As an adult, it’s your responsibility to maintain a routine in the home and set healthy boundaries.

  • Infants: Young children often find it hard to understand the changes that occur after divorce. Parental separation when a child is this age can instill unhelpful beliefs that persist throughout their life. They might worry that they’re to blame for the situation. There’s also the potential fear that if parents can stop loving each other, they could stop loving them. Parents of divorced children must speak openly about these issues and provide endless reassurance, comfort, and love. 
  • Grade School Kids: Grade school children are also prone to blaming themselves for the situation. However, because they can communicate better than young children, it’s easier to comfort them. Never assume that your child is okay because they aren’t displaying signs of distress. It’s essential to teach them to open up about how they feel so they learn to cope with their feelings constructively.  
  • Teenagers: Expect them to let off steam — their hormones are running wild — and be there to comfort them when they need it. Teenagers can become angry, upset, vicious, and blame one or both parents for the situation. Accept that requests for hugs are likely to be met with squirms and frowns and celebrate positive events. Reassure them that just like all painful emotions, time will be the most effective healer and never deny their experiences.

Divorce brings about astronomical changes to daily life that can feel catastrophic — just remember, it’s not the end of the world. It’s an opportunity to make life even better for you and your child. By approaching the situation with a positive mindset, you’ll help your child to cope with divorce. 

How Can I Help My Children to Cope With Divorce?

The other most effective way to guide your child through this tough time is by finding out how they feel and talking to them about it. Teenagers, in particular, are notoriously difficult to pin down for an in-depth discussion about their internal worlds. They’ll roll their eyes and rarely show appreciation, but it’s still vital that you comfort them and reassure them!  

Never Unload Your Feelings Onto Them

Since it’s your responsibility to provide them stability, you must set healthy boundaries. Divorce is difficult for a child and they need you to be strong now more than ever.

Try always to put them first and never unload your emotions onto them. If you put the burden of your mental health onto your child, they’re likely to repress their feelings and prioritize how you feel instead. You must make it clear that they are the priority and focus your efforts on ensuring they’re meeting their obligations, and you’re meeting yours. Seek advice from family, friends, or a counselor, but never your children — even teenagers.  

Top 10 Divorce Movies for Children

This list of 10 movies gives parents of kids of all ages (and with all kinds of taste) a few ideas of titles that could help children understand divorce.  

1. Night at the Museum (2006)

In Night at the Museum (2006), Ben Stiller plays a divorced father called Larry, who needs to get a job to provide for his son and set a better example to him. The ordinary gig he takes as a security guard at a museum turns out to be extraordinary, as the exhibits come to life and night. All the messages, such as encouraging reading and visiting museums, are positive and constructive. 

Watching a film like this can children as young as seven about divorce by showing them their situation reflected on-screen. Kids don’t like to feel like they’re strange. So, knowing the separation isn’t a result of something being uniquely and individually wrong with them can be incredibly reassuring. 

2. Wilderness Love (2013)

This is a tremendous heartfelt rom-com that explores the theme of parental separation and its effect on children to watch with teenagers. In the story, Mom seems to have found love, but Dad is struggling, and the kids want to give him a helping hand. When the three children sense an opportunity to reunite their parents, they grab it. 

Wilderness Love (2013) gives adults the starting point for an in-depth discussion. You can use the film as a starting point to find out how your child feels about divorce and reconciliation. If they have any misconceptions, you can gently guide them towards the truth.  

3. The Break Up (2006)

The Break Up (2006) is a hilarious rom-com starring Jennifer Aniston. While children aren’t involved, the film explores the financial side of divorce and other films that might be useful for teenagers. This one isn’t for little kids, but it could get help older children develop their understanding of divorce.  

4. Stepmom (1998)

Teenage girls usually love watching rom-coms with their mothers — and so do a lot of teenage boys, secretly! Stepmom (1998) is an excellent weepy movie with Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon. It explores themes of death and divorce, but perhaps not in the most realistic way. That’s a great way to start a conversation with a teenager: ask them if they think the film is realistic and if they’ve seen any better examples on-screen. 

5. Boyhood (2014)

Boyhood (2014) is a thought-provoking drama that teens with discerning taste are likely to be impressed by. Themes are dealt with maturely and philosophically, posing questions about stepfamilies and overcoming hardships such as abuse and addiction. It’s moving and provides some challenging talking points — but difficult conversations are the most important ones to have.  

6. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

Children’s classic, Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), stars Robin Williams as the man who dresses as a woman so he can see his kids more frequently. It approaches the subject of divorce sensitively while also making light of it. Laughter is another great tool of communication you can impart to your children to help them cope.  

7. The Squid and the Whale (2005)

Indie kids out there of all ages will find The Squid and the Whale (2005) enchanting and deeply insightful. It shows a couple’s divorce from the perspective of the sons as they learn about when a relationship falls apart. It’s a hard-hitting film that could help a divorced parent to bond with their older teenage children.  

8. The Parent Trap (1999)

There’s an old version of this film and a slightly less old version! Modern kids are more likely to relate to the characters in The Parent Trap (1999). It’s a great film for kids of all ages to watch so they can see children of divorced parents depicted in the media. You can ask questions about the film or get them to do a video or written review of it. This way, you’ll get subtle signs about what they feel, even from the most emotionally reserved child.

9. What Maisie Knew (2013)

What Maisie Knew (2013) tells the tale of a family going through a bitter divorce, with a particular focus on how it’s affected the children. Whatever age they were when you went through the divorce, watch this with your child once they become a teenager. It’s emotionally challenging but can start deeply meaningful conversations. 

10. Matilda (1996)

A film like Matilda (1996) doesn’t depict a divorced family — it shows a different kind of dysfunctional family. This movie can help you to teach a child that sometimes children benefit from their parents being separated. It also shows them that parents being together doesn’t automatically bring happiness to a family.

Improve Your Family Life Today

Watching divorce movies with your kids can be a good starting point for engaging them in a discussion about how they feel. This is so important because communication is the most useful skill you can teach your child in a challenging emotional situation.

Download the 2houses app today to help you and your spouse get organized so you can both do the best for your children. 

10 Things You Absolutely Need to Avoid When Getting Divorced

Getting divorced

We’ve all heard the infamous, albeit crude, divorce statistics in the US. 

While divorce may be more common than we’d like, there’s something else those ex-couples have in common: getting divorced isn’t easy for any of them. In fact, it’s downright challenging and complicated—whether you’re splitting amicably or not. Unfortunately, many couples go through it, but that also means there’s a lot of insight into how to get through it more seamlessly.

For example, in this article, we provide a list of don’ts for those going through the harrowing divorce process. By observing and practicing these suggested guidelines, you can perhaps make your divorce smoother, allowing you and your ex-spouse to reach the other side with respect, dignity, and integrity. 

Keep reading for advice about habits and actions to avoid at all costs when getting divorced.

1. Be Honest and Transparent

Now is not the time to lie or be vindictive, however tempting it may be.

In fact, lying about certain things like money, assets, or even debts, could be detrimental to your situation. You could potentially get charged with being in contempt of court if you knowingly do something like hiding assets or purchases or rack up credit card debt on your joint account. These actions are illegal.

Be honest about what you have, and try to avoid the tit-for-tat back-and-forth.

Rather than focusing on the little things, use your energy to focus on what matters—the more significant concerns like your home, your will, your children. At the end of the day, it won’t matter who ends up with the CD collection; it’ll matter that you came out free of legal charges.

2. Don’t Badmouth Your Ex-Spouse to the Kids

This action is bad for you, your ex-spouse, and especially your children.

Getting divorced is no easy thing for families. Kids are confused, scared, and resistant to the change that inevitably comes when their parents split. Avoid making it worse by badmouthing your spouse and forcing them to essentially choose sides.

Your children are human beings—not pawns in your divorce. Whenever you’re upset or angry, talk to someone like your attorney rather than your kids. The chances are that later, you’ll regret having said whatever you did anyway.

3. Try to Settle out of Court

Think getting divorced is cheap? Think again.

On average, divorces cost about $15,000 per person. This cost includes legal fees such as hiring an attorney, any court costs, a tax advisor, a child custody evaluator, and more. The factors that affect this cost are things like whether your divorce is contested or not, whether you have to navigate child custody, and whether there’s also alimony (among other factors).

You may be hesitant to hire a mediator, but it may be worth your time and money. If you can settle outside of court, you’ll be able to save yourself a lot of trouble, and especially the financial hit. If possible, try to do as much as you can outside of a courtroom.

Mediation can solve both small and large problems, and it gives you a voice. Additionally, without the litigation, intervention is typically much faster, allowing you and your ex-spouse to start moving on sooner. And of course, the costs are lower, making mediation a more affordable option for many.

Another bonus is that instead of allowing a lawyer to speak for you, you can speak for yourself. 

Of course, if you and your ex-spouse have more complicated problems, such as an uncontested divorce, incidents of abuse, or difficulties coming to a custody agreement, you’ll likely need to hire an attorney. The point here is to solve as much as you can outside of the courtroom, remembering that it’s not your personal space to hash out battles.

4. Consider Your Divorce Like a Business Transaction

It may sound impersonal, but that’s the point!

If you’re undergoing the divorce process in a high emotional state, you’ll be more likely to do things you regret (like setting your ex-spouse’s clothes on fire).

But if you treat the situation like it’s a business transaction, that framework may allow you to approach situations in a calm, respectful demeanor. Using this mindset, you’ll be able to approach every moment like a clear-headed adult.

5. Avoid Telling the World You’re Getting Divorced

Stay off social media!

Okay, fine—you can still be in communication with friends and family on Facebook, and you can still post your food photos on Instagram. The main thing here is to avoid using social media to vent about your divorce online. This point is similar to not badmouthing your ex-spouse to your children—don’t do it to your audience of friends and family, either.

Avoid this not only because you’ll likely regret your actions later, but because this could be used as evidence against you. Similarly, any texts you send to your spouse can be used as evidence. Keep your words calm and respectful, or you could end up seeing your Facebook post blown up on slides in the courtroom.

Plus, you just don’t need the advice of your friends and family. Everyone’s divorce is different. The only people who understand your divorce are you and your ex-spouse.

6. Stop Putting Money Into Joint Accounts

This one may seem obvious, but it could be an overlooked action that winds up being a point of contention.

Once you understand that getting divorced is in your future, it’s time to separate your accounts. Set up your own bank account and begin putting your money there. You don’t want to worry about your ex-spouse taking from your joint account, or racking up a debt on your account, leaving you momentarily dry. 

Advice your ex-spouse to do the same. In fact, anything that’s joint, separate it.

7. Don’t Compare Your Divorce to Others’ Divorces 

If your parents got divorced in the ’70s or even your best friend in recent times, it still wouldn’t be anything like your divorce.

And, taking advice from someone who doesn’t fully understand your situation can be detrimental to your mindset.

This point is true for everything—any future relationships, your relationship with your parents, your children. Each one-on-one relationship is different from the next. Use your gut, your intuition, and your knowledge of the situation to navigate it smartly.

8. Stopping Communication With Your Ex Isn’t Always the Answer

Cutting ties isn’t always the answer unless of course, you’re dealing with an abusive ex-partner.

If not, however, communication is vital for navigating the divorce process.

Try to stay on the same page—this is what will allow you to have successful mediation sessions or come to custody agreements. As long as you each have boundaries about when to talk, and how to talk to each other, try not to stop communication entirely. This doesn’t mean you have to stay friends if it’s uncomfortable, but rather, approaching this in a business-like fashion, as we mentioned earlier.

9. Avoid Jumping Into a Fling or Another Relationship

It may feel like the right answer—get over your ex by getting with someone else, right?

Unfortunately, while it may feel good at the moment, it’s likely not going to feel good later. You need to take the time to process the situation. Additionally, self-care is essential at this time.

What are your hobbies? What do you love to do? What makes you feel alive?

Take this time to fall back into a relationship with yourself. Learn what it feels like to prioritize you and your well-being above all else. Focus on making yourself happy as much as possible during this time, practicing anything that makes you feel good.

10. Try to Resist Playing the Blame Game

This point is similar to the one about treating this like a business transaction.

Unless under extenuating circumstances, such as your ex-spouse was abusive, then it helps to remember that at one point, you two once loved each other. In reality, relationships can fall apart—they don’t always last. No one has to be to blame in this situation. 

Rather, you’re two people who simply aren’t happy together anymore. You would both benefit from living separate lives. Once you accept this fact, it’ll be easier to overcome the hardship and begin to move on.

Most of All, Don’t Make This More Difficult Than It Has to Be

Getting divorced is hard enough without saying or doing things you’ll regret, using the children as pawns, or undergoing expensive court proceedings.

As difficult as it may be, try to remember the love you once had for this person, and when possible, use compassion. Remember, this is hard for your ex-spouse, too! If you can treat them with respect, they’ll be more likely to reciprocate. Avoid making this already trying situation more challenging than it needs to be.

For more insight into navigating the divorce process, keep reading the 2houses blog.

Being a Stepmom on Mother’s Day: You Deserve It, Too!

Being a Stepmom on Mother's Day: You Deserve It, Too

On Mother’s Day, women around the world are recognized for their child-raising efforts; but sadly, stepmoms are hardly acknowledged. 

Step-parents understand they’re not the primary parent; however, most do want others to respect them. After all, step-parents face many challenges. From bad relationships with biological moms to lack of reciprocated affection, it can be difficult. 

That’s why it’s important to celebrate Mother’s Day every year. It’s essential to feel appreciated and recognized.  

With this guide, you can learn how to celebrate Mother’s Day in your own way. Whether that means kicking back in your favorite PJ’s or laying on the beach, you can make your own special memories. 

Now, are you ready to dive in? Here’s an in-depth look at how to celebrate as a stepmom: 

Enjoy the Day with No Expectations From Your Stepkids

As a stepmom, Mother’s Day can be challenging since it can remind you of everything you do but receive little to no recognition. If your stepchildren do indeed show their appreciation, it can be, at times, awkward for their insincere efforts. 

It’s okay to want some kind of praise, after all, you deserve it. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll always receive a present or a card from your stepkids. Sometimes children feel that it dishonors their mother to celebrate their stepmom.  

That’s why it’s best to have no expectations for your stepkids on Mother’s Day. If a child presents you with a hand-written card or a gift of some kind, then that’s amazing! Embrace their offering and thank them for their praise. 

However, if they don’t, try not to take it personally. Instead, remind yourself that the most important gift is not a material one but rather having the privilege to shape a child’s life. 

Husbands Carry the Day

For many stepmoms, the only person who will truly celebrate Mother’s Day is their husband. However, try not to fret about the missed presents, cards, or words of recognition. 

This actually allows you to create your own special day. A day where you can reconnect with your husband, make long-lasting memories, and even feel pampered if you want. By creating your own special day, you can start new traditions and allow your husband to show you just how much he appreciates you. 

It’s important, however, to set the expectations-that way you’re not disappointed or let down.

Tell your spouse if you want flowers or a card in addition to a planned getaway or instead of. Let him know, and he’ll make sure to deliver to the best of his abilities. 

How to Celebrate 

Planning your own celebration is the best. That way, you can select a day that fits within your schedule. You can pick a planned getaway the day before Mother’s Day or enjoy a nice trip on the day itself. 

Just remember to plan around events that might include your kid’s biological parent. Now to get you started here are a few ideas: 

Spend a Weekend at a Bed and Breakfast 

Need some alone time with your hubby? Stay at a cozy B&B for the weekend, and reminisce about the good times your family has had. Enjoy not worrying about chores, early morning wake up calls, or the stresses of work. 

Just relax and enjoy one another’s company. However, wait until you hear the best part you can wake up on Sunday morning to a mouthwatering breakfast that you and your spouse didn’t have to cook! Now, don’t feel guilty for asking for a little time away from the kids.

In fact, in order to be the best mom, you have to take care of yourself emotionally, physically, and mentally. So if you want to be whisked away to a cute B&B and get treated to a restful sleep, let your husband know. Your motherhood efforts need to be acknowledged and recognized accordingly. 

Spend the Day at a Nearby Beach   

As a more affordable option, you can spend a day at the beach. You can sunbathe, swim in the ocean, or play a beach sport. Perhaps even have a picnic on the cozy white sand with your husband too. 

Try not to nitpick on how you’re alike or unlike from your kid’s biological mother. During Mother’s Day, that can be hard to refrain from; however, it’s important to enjoy the moment and focus on you and your stepkids. 

One way you can do that is to set goals with your husband to help you become better connected with your stepfamily. For example, you can start planning family movie nights, weekly game nights, or even family trips. 

Relax with a Trip to the Spa 

Who said being a stepmom isn’t difficult, that’s why a trip to the spa is definitely deserved. You can delight in treatments like a hot stone massage, a facial, or enjoy additional services like hair styling. 

But why go for the basics when you can have specialty treatments? Ask about the Thai massage, mud wrap, or inquire about the salt scrub body treatments. While they may be increased in price, they have incredible health benefits and will make your stay feel even more posh. 

If you don’t want to go alone, enlist one of your friends or even ask your hubby to join you. You can get separate treatments or enjoy a couple’s massage. With a full day of being pampered, you’ll feel relaxed and rejuvenated. 

Find Another Stepmom and Go out for Brunch 

Stepmoms understand navigating Mother’s Day is challenging, so what better way to celebrate than together. You can enjoy some gal time at your favorite brunch cafe or dine at a local eatery. Indulge in some wine and chocolate or simply have a fancy meal. 

Whether or not you want to bring gifts depends on each other’s personality. However, if you want to, you can buy a stepmom themed wine glass, a pair of cozy socks, or a scented candle.  

Just make sure to catch up on the latest family gossip and the best tidbits of married life. That way, you can support one another through this time. Just remember to remind one other that while it might not seem like it, you are valued for all that you do. 

Go to a Fancy Restaurant  

It’s one of the more cliché options on this list, but there’s nothing like eating a good meal. Make a reservation for one of your favorite restaurants or be adventurous and try something new. 

Enjoy a cocktail or two followed by an appetizer, delicious entree, and don’t forget about the dessert! Don’t try and justify each pricey decision; instead, treat yourself. You’ve cooked, cleaned, and helped tirelessly with every decision. 

Now, it’s time for you to enjoy a nice meal. However, don’t just go out in your work clothes; instead, dress up and make a night of the occasion. Go for a stroll after dinner and people watch or drive around town and talk endlessly. 

Spend the Day at Home   

Sometimes the best celebration is simply sleeping in. By staying home, you can do whatever you want when you want. Don’t worry about putting the laundry in the dryer or washing the dishes, instead take the day off. 

Binge-watch, your favorite TV show, eat breakfast in bed or even play your favorite board game. Allow yourself to have some much needed R&R. You’ll find you’ll feel better rested in the morning. 

Take a Couples Class   

Couple classes are perfect for strengthening a healthy relationship. In fact, they’re great for you and your hubby to explore new hobbies together. You can try painting, dancing, or even a mixology class. All classes increase trust and boost communication. 

Learning something new is not only fun, but it can bring people together and keep relationships fresh and happy. That way, when you go back to your usual routine, you can embrace what you learned, whether that be how to make a delicious margarita or slow dance to your favorite song. 

Stepmoms, Are You Ready for a Fun Celebration?  

Step-parents face many challenges over the years, from disputes with biological moms to lack of affection from kids, being a stepmom is no easy feat. However, no stepmom should feel left out on Mother’s Day. That’s why you should celebrate yourself with your hubby. 

Go out and have yourself a wonderful dinner or a spa getaway. Pamper yourself, and acknowledge that you are valued. 

For more information about Mother’s Day for stepmoms, contact 2houses or register today!