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Mastering The Transitions

Throughout our lives, we tend to view others as having it easier than we do. We hear about athletes’ and actors’ salaries and assume they don’t live with the same uncertainty and doubt we carry around. When we drive past houses larger than ours or ones with a better view, we assume they are happier than us. Everyone struggles, regardless of the assets they possess. Granted, people’s challenges may differ in degree in kind, but they still exist. 

Respecting and empathizing with other people’s challenges is essential, especially during a divorce. Processing the end of a marriage is similar to grieving the loss of a loved one, and we’re not underestimating how difficult this is on people. With that in mind, remember what your child experiences during this time. 

The Challenges of Pick-Up & Drop-Off

For the sake of argument, let’s imagine your spouse lives an hour away from you, and you have your child every other weekend. (Even if this isn’t an accurate reflection of your situation, the things we will discuss still apply.) The first challenge you may encounter is your child’s emotions in the first and last hour they are with you. They need time to settle into their new environment when they first arrive. And they also may be anxious about having to say goodbye before they depart. 

When they first arrive, find a relatively calm activity that facilitates their transition to your home. This could be as simple as walking the family dog, selecting a simple board game, or coloring together at the table. Resist the urge to sit in front of the TV because you want an activity that leads to conversation. Be curious but don’t push. 

On the other hand, leaving may be challenging because the child may still have many things they want to do with you. (Appreciate how much they cherish your time together!) On your first full day together, map out what they want to do. Maybe they want to draw, go to the park, and play with their Barbie Dream House with you. Make room for what they want to do, and they won’t feel like they missed out on something before leaving. On the day you return to meet the other parent, explain what will happen and when. Give them a routine or a plan they can follow and depend on. 

Another difficult transition element—for parents and children—is saying goodbye. During this time, you need to focus on helping your child. As much as you want to have long, drawn-out goodbyes, you may be putting an emotional burden on your child. For instance, if they see you crying (and we know how emotional this time can be), they may assume they are making you sad. Focus on when you will see them again. Tell them how much fun they will have with the other parent.

No one is telling you that you can’t feel sad or hurt. You must express and process these feelings away from your child or through a mental health therapist. Don’t allow the child to see the situation negatively, especially if they are too young to understand complex, adult emotions. The more they struggle, the more of an example you have to be. As a parent, your job is to help them navigate these transitions. 

Divorce Is Emotionally Complex

Empowered Family Law, P.C. understands and appreciates that you are going through a gambit of emotions. You can visit our preferred therapists’ page if you need help outside of what a lawyer can provide. Our job is to support you throughout this process. In addition to legal assistance and mental health counseling recommendations, we can provide you with a list of financial planners. If you are going through a divorce and need a compassionate hand, contact Empowered Family Law, P.C. to schedule your consultation

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Empowered Family Law, PC

With Empowered Family Law, you get an advocate who sees difficulties as opportunities for growth and emphasizes healing and problem-solving no matter how challenging your case.

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