Three ways to help kids get used to shared custody

Children often benefit from maintaining a healthy relationship with both parents, which is why shared custody is becoming the most commonly awarded custody option. However, sometimes children do not see the benefit right away. Sometimes children struggle with the changes that come with shared custody, but there are actions parents can take to help ease the transition.

Show support

One way you can help your children adjust to shared custody is by showing support for your child’s relationship with the other parent. When your ex-spouse picks up the kids, try to avoid showing negative emotions, which might make your children feel guilty about leaving. Also, try to make sure the children are ready to go at the agreed time.

You can also show support for the relationship by avoiding fighting in front of the children or making negative comments about your ex-spouse in front of the children. It can also be beneficial to reassure your children that both parents love them and will continue to care for them.

Balance new with familiar

As your children settle into having two homes, it is often important for them to be have a balance of new and familiar items in both houses. While you may not be able to control how your ex-spouse decorates, you can try to strike that balance in your own home.

If you have the new home, consider allowing the children to pick out some of the items for their new rooms. You can also consider including them in the decorating process in other areas of the house. However, you may want to try to incorporate some items from your old house, if possible.

If you are remaining in the marital home, you may want to hold off on redecorating for a while. This avoids any competition with your ex-spouse, while allowing the children to take comfort in the familiarity.

Create a routine

Creating a consistent schedule is important, and you can help kids visualize that schedule with a color-coded calendar in both houses. However, your flexibility can also benefit the children. If certain parts of the schedule are consistently problematic, consider making a more permanent change to the schedule.

Your children may also benefit from having a predictable routine for transitions from one home to the other. For example, you and your ex-spouse may agree that the parent who has been keeping the children will help them pack according to a packing list, then will drive them to the other parent’s home. The parent who is receiving the children should allow the children time to adjust. This may involve low-key activities like cooking a meal or reading a book together.

In many situations, shared custody is in the best interests of the children. However, it can sometimes take kids a little time to feel comfortable with a shared custody arrangement.

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