By Tracy Achen
Children are the innocent victims of divorce. They become the center of battles over child custody, support, and visitation. Worst of all, the lines are drawn between the two people they love the most - Mom and Dad.
Divorce affects a child in ways that parents don't always consider. They face losing the only lifestyle that they've ever known. In its place are week-end visits with Dad, living with a stressed out Mom, and having reduced resources for everything they used to do.
You can't change this fact, but you can give your kids unconditional love and support to help ease their adjustments. Spend extra time with them and give them your undivided attention when you are with them. If you can, try to maintain a regular routine that is similar to what they had before the divorce. For example: eat the same type of meals, have the same bedtime, and maintain the homework and chores schedule that was already in place.
Because each child reacts differently to divorce, you may sometimes question your abilities as a mother. This can be especially true if your ex suddenly finds fault with everything you do concerning the kids. This is usually a power-play, but it can weaken your self-confidence as a parent. Don't take it personally.
On the other hand, if you think your ex will try to fight you for custody, be sure to keep a journal of everything you do with your children. This can help prove that you are an active and involved parent in your children' lives. Write down all school functions you attend, doctor visits you take your children to, and even play-dates where their friend spend time at your house. Here are more tips on how to prepare for a custody battle.
But most importantly, figure out how can you be there emotionally for your kids, to help them accept and adjust to their new life. When you're at the end of your rope, realize that you are tougher than you think. Ultimately, you and your children will survive.
Beyond dealing with your the children's emotions, you will also need to handle all the legalities concerning their living arrangements and their well-being. This is where a parenting plan comes into play. A well thought out parenting plan can help you minimize the trauma your children will face and help lay the ground rules with your ex.
As you prepare your divorce, take into consideration the following questions that are commonly addressed by a parenting plan.
The following articles can give you more insight on the issues that you will face as you approach a divorce and you have children still at home.