Children and Divorce in Arizona
Divorce and Children in Arizona
Divorce. It’s a word you thought you’d never have to deal with on a personal level, but things change. People change. Situations change. No matter what happened to lead to this decision, the truth is that there’s no going back. Whether the decision to divorce was a mutual choice or not, it’s essential that you focus on helping your children throughout the entire situation.
All of your lives are going to change dramatically, and the chances are that your kids will have a variety of emotions during this time. There may be days where they’re perfectly fine, but your kids might have days where they feel sad or anxious or stressed. They might feel angry. They might feel frustrated. No matter what emotions your kids are feeling, make sure you’re there to support them. Here’s how.
First off, never negate your child’s emotions. Whether you think your child is reasonable or ridiculous, it’s vital that you help your child feel understood and heard. Let them know you’re listening.
The best way to do this is to close your mouth and listen to the words they’re saying. Don’t interrupt your child, especially if it’s to say something like, “That’s not what happened,” or “You know that’s not true.” When you interrupt or say things that contradict what your child is expressing, he or she may begin to think you don’t care.
Remember that the goal of communication isn’t to be “right.” It’s to help your child know you understand what you’re going through and that you’re there for them.
If possible, try to get on the same team with your former partner. While you’re probably dealing with some hurt feelings and pain of your own, aim to put that aside so you can communicate with your ex about your children. He or she may be worried about the kids, too, and it’s a good place for you to find some common ground to move forward.
Never use your children as a bargaining chip in your relationship. Instead, talk with your former partner about ways the two of you can mutually support your children. That might mean you have family dinners once a week or it might mean you compromise on where the children live. For some families, attending family therapy or counseling sessions together can also be a beneficial way to learn how to communicate with each other in your new family situation.
Finally, make sure your child understands the divorce wasn’t his or her fault. Many kids feel that their parents are splitting up because they were bad. Talk with your kid about the divorce. Don’t make it a subject you’re scared to address. Explain that sometimes, relationships end, and that’s okay. Not every marriage lasts forever, but that doesn’t mean you and your ex-don’t love your children.
Remember that divorce is a journey. It will take a while for your children to adjust to your new situation, so try to be patient as you support and encourage them during this time.
Step Parenting After Divorce in Arizona | How to Make it Work
Divorce is a major adjustment for everyone. Kids sometimes have a harder time post-divorce than their parents do. Then there’s the added challenge of helping stepchildren feel good at home. For some, it can seem like a daunting, if not impossible, task.
What can you do to minimize the stress associated with blended families? The most important thing you can do to minimize the stress for the entire family is to help your children feel at home. It’s a huge adjustment and they’ll need you to focus on making sure it goes well.
First and foremost, make sure all your kids know that you love them. Make it very clear that you aren’t competing for their love or trying to love them “more” than anyone else who loves them. Simply let them know that you love them and want the best for them.
If at all possible, avoid any more big changes. When the situation permits it, make sure that your stepchild still has access to their friends, their school activities, etc. when they are at your home.
It will go a long way towards helping them feel like they have a stable environment to call home. Maintain their routines and honor traditions. If they stay late for tutoring after school every Wednesday and Thursday then make sure you accommodate this when they will be coming to your home on those days. If Friday night had always been pizza night, embrace the tradition on their behalf.
Be extremely cautious in your interactions with the children’s other parent. It’s best if the kids aren’t around if there is going to be an argument. Many children of divorced parents already feel as if their world is spinning out of control. Even after the divorce is final and the aftermath calms down, many hold onto vague feelings of insecurity.
Seeing their parents “out of control” will only lend credence to these fears. Never criticize the child’s other parent in front of them as it is also frightening for children to view someone they depend on as weak or insufficient. Then there’s the issue of divided loyalties that can become a real problem for children who are not yet equipped to deal with the complexities of the situation.
Make your time with your stepchildren positive. Do your best to help them view your home as a calm, safe, happy place and you will find the adjustment goes a lot smoother and faster than you might expect. There will be ups and downs, but if you take action immediately to pave the way for them to settle in comfortably, the ups will be far more frequent than the downs.
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Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about children and divorce in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about child custody in Arizona. Chris is a family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a child custody case should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.