Shared Custody Solutions: 10 Tips for Helping Your Child Make the Most of Two Homes
Shared Custody Is Challenging
Sharing custody presents many problems that must be solved in the least disruptive way possible. When your child’s life is divided between two homes, orchestrating seamless exchanges is tricky. Fortunately, children are adaptable and can adjust to a shared custody arrangement. These tips will help you acclimate your child to having two homes.
- Make your child feel comfortable in your own home. Let them decorate their room. Invite them to have friends over. Make sure your child knows he or she will always have a place in your house.
- Help your child feel comfortable in the other parent’s home. This can be as simple as stocking the fridge with the same snacks or making sure your child has a complete set of clothes at each house. This will take some coordination with the other parent.
- Establish a routine as soon as you can. Children thrive on routine. Keep exchanges consistent, and try to enforce similar rules as the other parent (e.g. a specific bedtime).
- Find ways to make two homes a bonus. This will take some creativity. Maybe it’s planning a surprise for when your child returns to you or having a special occasion at both homes. Take advantage of time away from your child to make coming home an enjoyable experience.
- Give your child flexibility. This is especially important for teens. If your child has a preference, do what you can to respect it. Maybe your child wants to spend the weekend at the other parent’s to be closer to friends. Try to respect their wishes within reason.
- Communicate with the other parent. You need to know what your child is doing at the other home. What is his or her routine like? When is bedtime? What is a normal dinner? Synchronizing these daily details can help your child adjust.
- Accommodate your child. He or she might want things a certain way, so try to find a way to accommodate those requests if they are healthy.
- Do things to keep your spirits up when your child isn’t at home. When your child comes home, try not to talk about being lonely, which can cause your child to feel guilty about leaving. Make the most of your time with your child by focusing on self-care when he or she is gone.
- Show enthusiasm for your child’s daily life, no matter where he or she is. Find ways to connect every day. Call after dinner or send texts. Whatever it takes to keep in contact on a daily basis.
- Display tolerance of the other parent’s parenting choices. Many parents struggle with this. You and the other parent probably have different parenting philosophies, and that’s OK. Unless the other parent is not looking out for your child’s best interests, tolerate normal parenting practices even if they differ from your own.
These tips can facilitate a smooth transition to a shared custody arrangement. Shared custody can be beneficial when both parents work at it. A good overarching rule is to always keep your child’s best interests in mind. If your child is happy living in two homes, show them you are happy, too. If shared custody isn’t working out, speak with a New Jersey child custody attorney about your options.
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