The separation of spouses is a time of tremendous upheaval and transition. One household becomes two as you and your spouse start leading separate lives. It is a great change, not only for you but also for your children.
Your children are experiencing the same transitions and upheaval at this critical time. Reality as they know it has changed forever, which can be difficult for a child of any age to understand or accept.
Your primary concern as parents should be to support your children as they adjust to these changes in their lives.
It is important to remind children that they are your top priority and that you and your former spouse will always be their parents first, despite the separation. Reassure your children that you and your former spouse are and will always be a team when it comes to parenting, even though you are no longer a couple.
You can engage in team parenting by taking some simple steps such as:
- Letting your children know that you and your former spouse are communicating regularly and are jointly making parenting decisions;
- Maintaining similar schedules and routines in both households for things such as homework, meal, wake-up and bed times; and
- Establishing the same rules and expectations in both homes regarding behaviour, chores, discipline, and curfews
The effectiveness of Team Parenting depends on you and your former spouse demonstrating a cooperative effort for the sake of the children. It is important to set the tone for the Team Parenting early on by modelling a cordial, amicable, and productive relationship with your former spouse. Try setting an example by:
- Presenting to your child a united front on decisions, using for example the words “your father and I have decided…” instead of words like “I have decided…”
- Being supportive and encouraging your children to celebrate special events and birthdays of your former spouse; and
- Attending school events and extracurricular activities together
Team parenting offers many benefits for both children and parents:
- It creates consistency in both households;
- Children will feel secure knowing that there will be stability and consistency in their lives;
- Children are less likely or able to play one parent off of the other;
- Children are enriched by witnessing their parent’s ability to act as a team despite the separation;
- Children exposed to cooperative parental efforts will likely feel more secure and less confused or traumatized by the many changes following the breakdown of the relationship; and
- Less exposure to conflict between parents can foster and maintain positive parental relationships which are beneficial for your children’s long term emotional and psychological well-being.
For other specific ideas on Team Parenting and other issues, or to make an appointment with one of our lawyers, please contact us at Feldstein Family Law Group at 905-581-7222. Thank you.