Separation and divorce are never easy on the children, but sometimes do occur. It sounds like you are doing the right things by having a firm and stable parenting schedule. I’m guessing that you and your ex-husband live close enough together that your children can easily get back and forth to school and to school activities and it sounds like you probably have a fairly cooperative co-parenting relationship. These are all really important factors in ensuring that the kids have the most positive possible experience given a less-than-ideal situation.
A few things you might want to keep in mind in order to keep the experience positive for the children:
- Do not talk in a demeaning or highly critical way about your ex-spouse. Children of any age hate being under pressure to take sides against one of their parents. It is the most common cause of extreme stress for children of divorced families.
- If you and your ex-spouse are on good enough terms, make a point of both of you occasionally attending a few school or athletic functions. It helps for the kids feel supported by both parents. If it is too painful for you to do this or if there is a lot of unresolved anger toward your spouse, don’t do this!
- Listen to your children if they tell you repeatedly that the every two day schedule is too hard on them. As they get older, the schedule might work better for them if it is one week with you and one week with your ex or some other schedule. Be flexible.
- Finally, the more you and your spouse can have similar household rules and guidelines about school work, curfews, and acceptable or unacceptable behavior, the better it is for the kids. Do your best to set any hard feelings about your former spouse aside and keep the children’s best interests at the forefront of your decision-making.
Finally, if you are having trouble handling things in a mature and healthy way, you may seek short-term individual counseling to get support and ideas and to work out difficult unresolved feelings about the divorce. It can also be both appropriate and helpful at times to do a few sessions of counseling together with your ex-spouse to work through co-parenting issues that are stubbornly difficult to resolve on your own.