Parenting time is one of the primary ways you can address your children’s needs after a divorce. You and your spouse may disagree about how the parenting time should be divided because you each believe that your children will be best off by spending as much time with you as possible. However, concerns about the quantity of parenting time can sometimes overshadow the importance of the quality of parenting time. Whether you have a majority or a minority of parenting time, it is important that you use that time effectively to address your children’s emotional needs and help them through the difficult adjustment.
Children of divorce need acute attention from their parents because the process has left them with many questions and doubts about their lives. Unfortunately, parents who are caught up in a divorce may not notice their children’s struggles and assume that their children will tell them if something is wrong. Your children notice how the divorce upsets you and may be afraid that asking questions will draw your ire. They are waiting for you to notice that they are upset and to talk to them. When you fail to do so, they may conclude that you do not care, which can cause depression and resentment.
You must approach your time with your children as an opportunity for them to talk to you about their thoughts related to the divorce. To allow them to feel comfortable, you should:
- Directly ask them how they feel;
- Attentively listen to what they say;
- Reassure them about their doubts without rejecting their feelings; and
- Tell them that you are not upset or angry with them.
As much as you want your parenting time to be happy, it is healthy to allow your children to be sad if that is how they feel. Your children need to express what makes them sad and angry about the divorce and feel that you acknowledge those emotions.
Parenting with Purpose
When arguing with your spouse about the allocation of parental responsibilities, you should ask yourself whether what you want is best for yourself or best for your children. Your children are not a property to be divided but a responsibility to be shared. Both of you have an individual, irreplaceable role in helping your children through what is likely the most traumatic experience in their lives. A Kane County divorce attorney at Van Larson Law, P.C., can help you create a parenting agreement that is in the best interest of your children. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-879-9090.