When you decided to file for divorce in a Washington court, you likely had a million thoughts swirling in your mind regarding how your children might take the news and what you'd be able to do to help them come to terms with the situation. Divorce often creates many parenting challenges, such as basic logistics of going to school or sports practices and social gatherings (i.e., which of you is picking them up or attending a special event?) as well as emotional issues that may arise.
A time when changes in family dynamics are felt the most is during summer. The kids are out of school and your usual customs or traditions as a family may change because one parent is no longer there. The good news is that your divorce doesn't necessarily have to mean the end to your summer time fun. If you know where to seek support if a co-parenting problem arises and have ideas on hand to help your kids move on in life, you may wind up having your best summer yet.
On the home front
Most children thrive on routine and structure. It's no secret that divorce often causes upheaval in children's lives. The following ideas may be useful as you try to keep stress levels low at home and beyond:
- Doing chores and working together as a family can give kids a sense of purpose and show them that your divorce need not keep you from functioning in a healthy, productive manner as a family.
- Even though you may have to hold down a job and navigate life as a single parent, your kids still need to spend time with you, perhaps even more now that you're divorced. By letting them know you're there to support them, they gain confidence to share their feelings and cope with their situation.
- You can stay up late to watch movies or sit around a campfire and talk; you can surprise them with a picnic outing or some other pleasurable activity. In short, if they see you enjoying summer, they are more likely to do the same.
- It's only natural that your kids will want to share their summer news with their other parent. By allowing them to keep communication lines open, you show them you have their best interests in mind.
- You and your former spouse are legally bound to adhere to existing court orders regarding custody, visitation and child support. Summer time is no excuse to change your plan without court approval.
If you are scheduled to have your kids for the entire month of June and your ex unexpectedly plans a beach trip with them during the time they're supposed to be with you, you can take immediate steps to protect your parental rights. The bottom line is that the more your children see both parents willing to cooperate for their sake, the likelier they are to have a fun summer and a promising future.