Tips for Helping Kids Adjust to Split Custody
When going through a divorce, the most frightening thing for both parents and kids to face may be child custody. Split custody, where siblings no longer live together, is rare, but it is the right choice for some families. However, this arrangement can be especially tough for kids to adjust to the huge change of no longer living with siblings or full-time with both parents.
If split custody is the best solution for your family, acceptance is important for all members of the family. That can take some time. Follow these tips to help children adjust to this monumental shift in their lives.
Empower Kids With Their Own Choices
Many children often feel powerlessness in a divorce situation. Kids don't get a say in whether their parents get divorced. With split custody, one or more of your children may not like the fact that their siblings won't be living with them all the time. Combat that sense of powerlessness by allowing your children some control over their lives and choices.
Because kids shouldn't be saddled with the responsibility of major life decisions, these choices may be small, but they can mean a lot to little ones. For example, you may start a tradition of letting your kids pick out their own snacks for the school day from a box of healthy goodies every morning.
Try to also offer either/or choices throughout the day. That way, you are choosing things that you approve of with either choice the child makes.
While those are small things, they can have a big impact. Having the power to make small decisions for themselves can build self-esteem and give kids a sense of being in control.
Be Generous with Reassurance
Reassuring kids may come easily, or it can feel unnecessary when you express your love in other ways. Once you've explained to kids that the divorce is not their fault, you make feel like you've said what you needed to express. However, kids who are facing something like a split custody decision may need a lot of reassurance.
Express your love in words every day. If you aren't seeing some of your children on a daily basis, be sure to email or text them how much you love them every day. Make it clear to kids that the split custody decision wasn't their fault, and reiterate that they are still equally adored by both parents. Don't hesitate to say the same reassuring things in a different way.
Plan Bonding Time for Siblings
Even if brothers and sisters do not get along well, the sibling relationship is an important one that parents should nurture in most cases. If possible and practical in your situation, make it a priority to plan time for the kids to get together. If one of the reasons for the split custody was animosity among siblings, you may want to consider family therapy even after the custody decision.
The best way to foster bonding among siblings is to plan shared activities that everyone in the group enjoys. If you just put feuding children in a room and hope they get along, that's probably not going to work. However, if you get kids all involved in something like solving a puzzle game, they may find ways to help each other and enjoy each other's company along the way.
Finally, the process of going through a divorce may only last a few months, but the divorce will change nearly every aspect of your life. Split custody is yet another major change that will impact every member of the family. Contact the Law Office of Michael Lilly for help and expert advice on custody, divorce, and other family law matters.