After the Divorce

Keeping the family's lines of communication open is more important then ever.

By FamilyTime


A number of American families face the realities of divorce, which means raising children when Mom and Dad live apart. For those who deal with this situation, communicating within the family is perhaps even more crucial than it is for intact families.

Keeping cooperative and civil lines of communication open between family members makes everyone’s life run more smoothly. It may require a little effort, but the end results are well worth it.

Here are five tips for making this happen:

  • Children should see and hear their parents discussing plans, activities, and events important to their offspring. This reassures the kids that both parents have an active role in their lives and share a concern for their well-being.
  • Parents should keep abreast of significant changes in their children’s lives. For instance, if one of the kids changes sports’ teams, drops out of the school play, or wants to go to camp, both parents should know about it. This assures the children that all pertinent information is shared by the family. If the children are teenagers, they might choose to keep their parents updated on such things, but both parents should let their kids know that they are interested in any and all aspects of their lives.
  • Parents should know their children’s daily schedules. Even the non-custodial parent should know what their kids do each day. This might be accomplished by sharing an on-line family calendar or by having weekly phone calls. While details may be missed now and again, this is a safety net for the kids (if Dad gets held up, Mom can show up at the orthodontist) and keeps the parents involved in what’s important to their kids.
  • Children should know their parents’ daily activities, too. If Dad has a weekly tennis game, the kids should understand that this is time he is unavailable; if Mom likes to take a long walk on Saturday morning, this should be respected. On the other hand, the kids should know how to get in touch with both parents at all times and never feel hesitant to do so, if necessary.
  • Both parents should set expectations for their children and discuss these with them. These could be as minor as expecting the kids to put their laundry in the hamper (at both residences) and say “please” and “thank you,” or as noteworthy as bringing up their grades. When a goal is met, both parents should know about it and congratulate the children.

As with so much of life, open, honest communication is the best way to avoid misunderstandings and missed opportunities. Every parent forgets the occasional soccer game and all kids neglect to take the trash out now and then, but when everyone is clear about what is expected of family members, life is better.

Divorce is tough on everyone, but if all involved resolve to communicate and stay in touch, life will be easier.