Divorce is almost certain to be a difficult process for everyone involved. Children can make the process exponentially more difficult as parents considering divorce try to make decisions they believe are in their children’s best interest. Sometimes, the decisions parents make for their children can differ from how the other parent may have handled a situation. These types of disagreements between parents can cause conflict during a marriage, and they can certainly cause conflict for parents during and after a divorce. The following information, adapted from an article from Huffington Post, can be useful for parents experiencing difficulty with different parenting styles after divorce.
Do Not Put Your Kids in the Middle
Divorce is hard on your children, no matter how resilient they seem or how well they seem to be adjusting. It is important to do everything in your power to make the divorce process as easy on your children as possible, which is no easy feat. One thing you can do to make the process less interruptive is to keep your kids out of conflicts you may experience with their other parent. If you have disagreements about different parenting styles or other choices that the children’s other parent might make, work them out with the other parent. Try not to badmouth the choices the other parent makes, as it may make your relationship with your children more difficult and is almost certain to make the child’s relationship with the other parent more difficult.
Be Realistic About Limitations
Neither parent is likely an expert on every topic. Each parent probably has different strengths and weaknesses, and those traits may have complimented eachother quite nicely during a marriage. However, once parents have divorced, these differences can become much more apparent. Be realistic about your expectations of the other parent. For example, it is probably unrealistic to expect him or her to cook gourmet meals if he or she does not know how to cook. Instead of criticizing your ex’s choice to eat out, you can offer to teach him or her how to prepare healthy meals at home. Additionally, you can encourage ta coparent to make sure that kids are making healthier choices when dining out. Most importantly, you can help your kids understand the importance of making healthy choices when it comes to eating. Not only can this help you avoid conflict with the children’s coparent, but it can help you teach your kids how to make healthier choices on their own.
Be Careful with Enforcing Your Rules Elsewhere
Inconsistent rules can be problematic during a marriage, and they can create a great deal of tension during and after a divorce. If you start realizing that your rules are inconsistent with those of the child’s other parent, be careful of trying to enforce your rules during the time your children spend with their other parent. It is important to work on establishing a sort of mental separation where what happens when your children are with your ex stays there. Instead of focusing on the chore of “deprogramming” your children when they return from time with their other parent, try to focus on helping children understand your rules as well as how they can be beneficial. Not only will this help relieve stress on you, but it will help make sure that the time you spend with your kids is focused on quality activities.
Embrace Different Beliefs
Beyond rules, factors like religious beliefs can play an extremely important role in raising children. In situations where religion might be less important to one parent than the other, or where one parent may have different religious beliefs, conflict can arise from trying to enforce one set of beliefs on children. Often, children can benefit from experiencing different belief systems. Additionally, demonstrating respect for various beliefs or lack thereof can help your children learn to respect the opinions and beliefs of others even if you or they do not agree with them. When different religious beliefs are in play, it is important to remember that many times you were aware of religious differences prior to marriage and chose to accept them. While you may have had a compromise in place for children, it is essential to adapt to changing circumstances especially if you want your children to be able to adapt to them.
Be Prepared to Give Up Control
Remember that you are not in charge of what happens when your children are with your ex. It is natural to worry about your children, but when they are with your ex you may need to practice restraint. Short of prior incidences of violence or other significant safety concerns, your children are likely fine with their other parent regardless of differences you may have with how they are raised. Your ex probably will not listen to your advice or suggestions, either, as he or she is likely struggling with differences in parenting, too. Keep in mind that children’s best interests are served when they have equal access to both parents, so take a step back and let them develop their relationship with their other parent. It is much easier said than done, but it will likely strengthen your family and ultimately help you prepare your children for adulthood.
The Courts are There to Help
Courts are naturally adversarial places, especially when it comes to divorce. However, their role is to help strengthen relationships with children even in the face of divorce. Remember that no matter how much you trust and respect your ex, it is important to remain vigilant about your children’s safety and well-being. If your children are in danger or if the custody arrangement approved by the court is no longer working in a child’s best interests, reach out to your divorce attorney and inquire about how you can make beneficial changes. Child support and custody arrangements can be modified when necessary, and working to do so with an attorney already familiar with the details of your case can make the process much easier for everyone involved.
If you have questions or concerns about how a Florida divorce might affect you and/or your children, contact Scott J. Stadler to schedule a consultation. Mr. Stadler has focused his family law practice on Florida couples facing divorce, including issues related to child custody. Working with an experienced Florida divorce attorney can help you anticipate issues that may arise during or after a divorce as well as plan for how to address them.