Divorce or separation can be a chaotic time for both parents and children. As the children learn to live in two different households, there are definitely ways to help ease the transition, such as family therapy and each parent endeavoring to be as calm as possible. Aside from these individual efforts that may be made, one of the best ways to help children through this big change, is to keep consistency between households as children typically thrive on routine and stability.
Bedtime is a crucial component of keeping consistency between households. It is an easy benchmark for parents to use, as it is not subjective. Keeping the same bedtime helps show the child that the parents are still maintaining a unified front, it gives the child comfort in knowing his or her own sleep schedule, and it gives the child the opportunity for better sleep habits. Consistent bedtimes also keeps similar expectations on how time is to be spent at each home. For example, keeping bedtime at 8 pm sets up a very different picture than a bedtime at 11 pm. When establishing a consistent bedtime routine, parents need to be sensitive to school schedules and extracurricular activities of the other household. Parents need to keep in mind that although consistency is ultimately key, rigidly conforming to only one schedule at all times (no matter what the cost), can be just as detrimental to a child as refusing to maintain stability.
Discipline expectations are also another way parents need to coordinate. Not only will this keep the expectations consistent, but will also prevent one parent from always having to be "The Bad Guy." Courts will examine whether either or both parents have attempted to reasonably coordinate discipline and other parenting issues when making future decisions about custody modifications. If one parent is refusing to discipline or refusing to cooperate, this will not weigh in favor of that parent in a custody dispute. Parents also need to discuss the disciplinary role of step-parents or significant others. Although the decision on how and what discipline is to be used should be between the parents, step-parents should still be kept informed on their role. Step-parents are an integral part of a child’s home life and in keeping a unified front between all adult figures.
Keeping consistency between homes can really help a child with the transition during divorce or separation, and we have helped many clients with how to craft and implement an order that reflects these needs. Call us today at (619) 800-0384 to talk about your children and their needs.