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Divorce, two homes and helping your children adjust

Adjusting to life after divorce is a learning experience for everyone in the family. Explaining the whole situation to your children in a way that they will understand is probably the first challenge you will face, closely followed by helping them make the transition between two homes.

You and your ex may have put together a co-parenting plan, either on your own or with help from an attorney, developed around some basic steps that you can take to help the young ones settle into this new chapter in their lives.

Help them feel secure

Young children may feel frightened because of the divorce; they are used to the comfort and security of family. Older children may struggle with the idea that they were somehow to blame for the breakup. Reassuring them, making sure they know you love them and that they had no part in the divorce decision will be an ongoing responsibility. You will have to reinforce this many times over.

Give them space of their own

Make sure they have personal space in the new home where they can settle in and become accustomed to this novel situation. Having their own bedrooms would be ideal, but they should at least have their own drawers, closet space and shelves where they can keep things - areas that are theirs alone.

Set rules and establish routines

Children expect schedules. No matter where they are, they should be able to depend on eating dinner, doing homework and going to bed at the same time. They thrive on routine; it makes them feel grounded and more secure. Similar rules and consequences should exist in both homes, and one parent should not overturn permission or a disciplinary action that the other parent has already set.

When in doubt, seek help

The co-parenting effort will have its ups and downs, and even when the job of helping children adjust to your divorce seems to be going well, problems will arise. If your co-parenting plan appears to be breaking down, you can always seek the help of an attorney experienced with the many different aspects and issues related to family law.

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