Changes are inevitable for a couple as well as children following divorce. The everyday routine of the family often changes and parents are required to assume additional responsibilities that may limit time available to their children. Your children may feel as though they have been abandoned by the parent who does not have as much quality time available as before the divorce and both parents may feel left out of the daily routines which involve their children.
Courts may allow for visitation throughout the week for the noncustodial parent to visit, although this time is usually spent primarily accomplishing homework and other tasks which leave little opportunity for pleasure. It is essential to accomplish the tasks at hand while visiting during this time but plans should be made for quality time with the children and review of the activities and accomplishments that have occurred since their last visit. A sense of self-worth is felt by a child who understands that his parents are interested in his achievements and takes time to share his accomplishments.
Another factor of divorce and children is that of lost time each parent will have when the children are in the care of the other parent. This lost time due to divorce is often stressful to both parents. The daily routine experienced when they were married changes with divorce. Suddenly you realize that you are not taking your children to daycare or not discussing football plays with your son because he is not with you. This change of daily routine and the loss of time spent with the children cannot be replaced. One way to reduce alienation that both parent and children feel may be in sharing memories daily with the absent parent. An example of sharing memories may include sharing daycare or school papers that you would not see otherwise. Let’s explore:
A child often has papers from daycare or school that he has colored or made something special which causes tremendous excitement as he describes every detail to the custodial parent. As a mom who was able to transport my daughter from daycare daily, I would not take anything for the memories that I have from the excitement of her sharing about her day. Every day she would gather her completed work papers from her cubby and as we walked together, she would talk so fast that I could barely keep up with all the activities that she was describing and her accomplishments throughout her little world for the day. Seven words that I will always remember are “Look Mommy, I colored in the lines”. She was so excited that her coloring was neat and every day I reviewed the sheets of her ABC’s, writing her name and every day I waited to hear, “Look Mommy, I colored in the lines”. She was very proud as she reached for my hand and looked up for my approval. Of course, everything she did was amazing to me. We would hurry home and place those papers aside so when dad arrived home, she could share her enthusiasm of her work and seek his approval. Both parents shared in her excitement and praised her for a job well done. Both parents were actively involved by attentive listening, giving positive approval for her accomplishments and watched her excitement as she placed her most important papers on the kitchen refrigerator with pride.
When divorce occurs, one parent will not be able to participate in the excitement as described above on a daily basis. One way to help reduce the alienation that the child feels when the absent parent is not present to share in the daily excitement is to have a special envelope or box where the child can place some of his papers to be taken to the other parents home to be shared. One point for the parent to remember is that life may be more demanding but when the papers are taken from that envelope to share, this is when the worries of life needs to stop for five minutes and focus on those wonderful words “Look Mommy or Daddy I colored in the lines”. The other task is to make sure he has many colorful magnets accessible to place the papers that were brought to your home to be displayed with pride. Leaving the fabulous artwork intact until your child replaces it with new material is often needed to create lasting memories.
Many may think that this is such a small matter, but as your child matures, the memories made will be ones that cannot be replaced. As a counselor who has worked with children, I heard a child say one parent places my work on his refrigerator and the other does not. The child was confused and hurt. Just by participating, listening and with pride displaying the masterpieces that your child has made will be worth a million memories when they mature and no longer bring those papers home for display and there are no more opportunities to display these creations.
Divorce may create less time to make memories with your child, but each parent should provide opportunities for the child to include both parents in their daily life. This will reduce the alienation that divorce may bring.
Divorce Tool Box realizes that divorce creates a separation among families however, ways must be sought to keep the bond between the child and parent. Allow our online program to assist you today with co-parenting issues and planning for your future co-parenting years. Visit our website at www.divorcetoolbox.com to begin planning how to make memories that will last a lifetime with your child.