Alan’s tips for parenting during a divorce are a terrific reminder that shared custody CAN be much less traumatic when done with joint effort and consideration.
Attachment Parenting is a topic that has generated some heated debate over the last few years, and while many people feel strongly about it, there remains a great deal of ignorance about what this parenting philosophy actually is. The press has recently focused on some of the more extreme methods, which require nearly constant contact between parent and child, and are close to impossible for working parents to achieve.
At its core Attachment Parenting is about respecting your child, and always treating them gently and with sensitivity. It’s about listening to your child and making sure they feel safe and loved at all times. For these reasons it can be a great way to help a family cope with divorce and shared custody.
In this article we will go through the 8 tenets of attachment parenting and discuss ways they can help keep things smooth, peaceful, and consistent for everyone involved when a family is divided. As we know, divorce, shared custody, and living in multiple households can be traumatic for children, and the 8 tenets of Attachment Parenting can be a very useful tool to minimize that trauma.
Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
Preparing for the changes your family is about to face is important both in times of joy and sorrow. Now is a time to plan and prepare, just as you got your home and life ready for the arrival of your children.The most important thing to remember is, even though the marriage has failed, the relationship is anything but over. Recommitting to a strong, healthy relationship even after divorce is an important step. Your children will need both of you, and the two of you together. They will still need to see your bond is strong, and no matter how big the changes in their lives may be, their family isn’t going anywhere.
The end of a marriage is never easy, but it is critical that both parents continue to keep the best interests of the child or children in mind. Openly communicating your needs, concerns, and expectations will help to keep any bad feelings left over from the divorce from rearing their ugly heads as you try to move forward. Be honest, patient, and flexible with each other, and this transition period will go much more smoothly.
Never underestimate the importance of a strong support system in your child’s life. Having extended family and close friends who are a consistent and positive influence will help lend stability in a time when things may feel uncertain.
Feed with Love and Respect
Although your children may no longer be breast feeding, the role you play in shaping their dietary habits is very important, and ensuring you are both on the same page is key. Clearly discuss what kinds of foods you want your children to eat, and model that behavior in both homes.Sharing meals with your ex may be awkward, but having regularly scheduled family dinners with both parents will provide consistency, as well as reassuring your children that their family remains strong and intact, even if it is changing.
Respond with Sensitivity
Although you will do everything you can to make this transitional period easy on your children, they may still struggle to cope, and tantrums or behavioral issues are not uncommon. Remember, these behaviors are your child’s way of expressing feelings they’re not quite able to understand or articulate. Handling these moments with patience and open communication will help you to understand what your child is going through and respond to it appropriately.Whichever home your child is spending time in, ensuring that they are treated with respect and empathy. Remember your child is his or her own person, separate and entirely different from either of their parents. Many children of divorce often feel as though neither parent is completely focused on them. Make sure both parents are expressing interest in the child’s activities and experiences.
It is also important to ensure both parents are making time with the children a priority. Your children should get to spend significant time with each parent alone, as well as together as a family.
Use Nurturing Touch
Spending time being physically close with your children is very important. After being separated from you for time with their other parent, touching your children through snuggling, hugging, and games can maintain and even renew the connection you have.
Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
One thing that will be very important when raising a child in multiple houses is routine. Ideally, your child would sleep in the same room every night. But since they will have to adapt each time they change houses, make sure bedtime and naptime are peaceful in both homes. Lying down with your child for a little while can offer you the opportunity to snuggle, while also reassuring your child that they are in a safe and loving environment.
Provide Consistent and Loving Care
This may be one of the most difficult aspects of Attachment Parenting for divorced parents. Make sure you are spending focused time reconnecting to your children after separation. Remember, even though they’re growing up in two households, they should still be a part of one family. Openly communicating and spending positive time with your ex will help your child to feel safe and secure.Developing family traditions or honoring those that already exist will give you an opportunity to demonstrate to your child that your family is still strong and close, even though you aren’t married anymore.
Practice Positive Discipline
Once again, consistency will be key. Making sure your child knows the rules and the consequences of their behavior, and making sure those things are the same in both houses is very important. If there is a behavioral issue, it is very important that both parents work together to resolve it. Respect that your child is expressing a need, and respond with compassion and empathy. Depending on your child’s age and developmental status, they may not be able to better communicate their needs to you.
Strive for Balance in Your Personal and Family Life
Your children are of course your priority, and meeting their needs will take up most of your time and energy. However, it is very important that you take care of yourself as well. You can’t take care of them if you haven’t taken care of yourself first. Loneliness is a common problem for single parents, but your children do not need you to be unhappy. Schedule time for grownup activities and personal needs, and ensure your health and happiness is being taken into consideration.Balance for your children can mean developing hobbies or making new friends. Ensure that they feel like they are getting enough time with each parent and with both together. Also, surround your children with a community of people who have their best interests at heart. This will help keep them safe and cared for even when they can’t be with you.
Although committing to Attachment Parenting in multiple households may sound intimidating, even just these simple tips can help make the reality of shared custody much less traumatic for your family.
Alan Brady is a writer who uses personal experience as inspiration to write about family, the environment, and business practices. He currently writes for Attorneys.com, which locates local child custody lawyers.