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Guidelines for Managing Contact
If you and your spouse have recently decided to divorce, or even if you’ve been apart for some time, the issue of making sure that your children are still spending enough time with each parent can still be a challenge. Here are some tips for seeing that your kids grow up happily, and have regular contact with both parents.
Set up a schedule
You and your ex-spouse should sit down with one another to set up a schedule for when each of you will spend time with the children. In most cases, one parent is given primary custody, so you’ll need to decide which weekends or holidays the children will visit the parent without legal custody. Try to work these plans out with your ex-spouse in a friendly and relaxed environment, and make sure that each spouse agrees to the schedule. You should both do your best to stick to the schedule as much as possible; it’s also a good idea to tell your children when they’ll be spending time with each parent. You may have to readjust your schedule after talking with each child (i.e. children may want to spend more time with the parent that does not have primary custody), so be prepared for this as well.
Update Contact Information
Your children will definitely want to communicate with the parent they are not living with as often as possible, especially if the parent lives far away. So, make sure that you update your contact information for your ex-spouse often. Keep phone numbers and email address current, so that your children can contact their mother or father whenever they want to talk, or to tell them about important events. Encourage your children to contact their other parent as often as they would like, and make sure that your kids know that you want them to have a relationship with both parents. Many times, children tend to think that divorce is their fault, and if you make sure that your kids know that both you and your ex-spouse still love them very much, it will make divorce (especially in the initial stages) much less awkward. You may also want to keep your ex-spouse’s information on hand in case the two of you want to plan any surprises for your children (i.e. parties, special gifts). Even though the two of you are separated, your children will still want to know that you are willing to come together for their sake.
Work as a Team
No matter which parenting schedule you and your ex-spouse come up with, make sure that you present your final decision to your children as a team. Make sure that you are willing to work with the emergencies that may come up in your ex-spouse’s life that may cause him or her not to spend time with the children according to the schedule. You should also make sure that you are not causing your children to resent one parent, or to choose one parent over the other. Present your child’s other parent in the best light possible, and don’t tell your children negative things about your ex-spouse. Remember that the divorce is between you and your former husband or wife, and that your children still need two loving parents who are willing to put them first. Be willing to work with your ex-spouse as much as possible when it comes to providing the best life for your children, and make sure that the time your children spend in each home is pleasant. You may even want to plan family outings from time to time (i.e. a child’s birthday or graduation party), depending on how well you and your ex-spouse get along.