Currently, about forty percent of marriages end in divorce. Partners typically go through tedious amounts of negotiation over the division of their assets and property, and eventually decide on a fair agreement. Unfortunately, couples with children must also choose the terms of custody, including which parent the children will live with, how often the children will see the other parent, which parent makes health decisions, and more.
Karen Bonnell, Co-parent Coach and author, shares two major child-related decisions that must be made before or during the divorce process. The first is where and with whom the kids will spend holidays, birthdays, and school breaks. Bonnell suggests that for the first few years after separating, families celebrate events together with both parents, giving children time to adjust to the new situation. The second major decision is how parents will handle new relationships. Bonnell recommends that parents try to introduce any new partners as friends first, to allowing time for kids to adjust to a new parental figure.
Although co-parenting may be daunting or seem like a giant headache, Bonnell says that the biggest priorities should be the health and safety of the children, and that it is a good idea to involve a neutral third party in the toughest decisions. While divorices are difficult and stressful, good planning will benefit the entire family. Studies show that children raised by separated parents often become good leaders and are able to manage many different situations well. Bonnell reminds parents that the best thing we can do for our children is to remind them that they are loved and they are not to blame for their parents’ divorce.
- Karen Bonnell, Co-parent Coach, author of The Co-Parents’ Handbook: Raising well-adjusted, resilient and resourceful kids in a two-home family from little ones to young adults.