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preparing your children for moving house and divorce


preparing your children for moving house and divorce

Children respond to the general atmosphere set in the home by the attitudes of their parents. If you look at moving as an exciting adventure full of new possibilities, then chances are very good that you will infect your children with enthusiasm and anticipation.

Many times we forget that making more money or moving to a larger home is not a change that children will understand. The younger the child, the less able they are to "see into the future" as you do. They tend to focus on losing the security they already know, along with missing friends and family. Your job is to turn the sadness and doubt into happiness. Ask yourself what advantages there are for the child in the move. For example, will the family be closer to Grandma, the ocean, or another favorite person, place, or activity?

One of the easiest ways to turn an unhappy frown into joy and excitement is to communicate frequently. Let your children know, step by step, what is happening and what is likely to happen next. Tell them what the move means to the family -- how important it is that Mommy got a big promotion or that Daddy is opening a new office for his company, and how other aspects of the move will be good for the child.

Be ready for those "What about me?" questions by researching schools, churches, activities, and community amenities in advance, and offer your child choices and ways to participate where it is appropriate. Whenever possible, look up information on the Internet, or have your agent e-mail, fax, or mail vital information about the community so that you and your child can plan where to go and who to meet in order to help ease the transition into new activities and surroundings. Contact organizations with whom your child is already associated or with whom he or she has an interest, and ask for referrals to your new city. Knowing they won't have to give up favorite hobbies or sports goes a long way toward helping children adjust.

Making contacts with future friends, classmates, and fellow hobbyists can also go a long way toward helping your child's transition to a new home and environment. See if your agent, other transferees, or family can put you in touch with other children your child's age so that a chat room or e-mail friendship can begin.

Your Realtor should be able to show you your home either through e-mail, the local MLS service, or Have your Realtor take pictures of your home and send them to you. Have fun by showing your child the new house plans, or draw them yourself and let your child cut out furniture and toys to place in the rooms. Show your child a typical day in the home as you go from room to room. Draw a map, and show how close Mommy and Daddy work, where schools are, where Aunt Bea lives, and other points of interest to help them orient themselves in their new surroundings.

If time and finances permit, take your child on a trip to visit your new city and home to get acquainted. If that's not possible, get on the Internet, and show him or her the city, neighborhood, and home where you'll be living. Most cities have Web sites available that offer a wide range of information, so you can plan activities for after your move, such as visits to the theater, a visit to the local zoo, or a trip to a local restaurant that serves your child's favorite food.

Allowing your children to participate as much as possible makes the time they spend anticipating the move pass more quickly. Keep them occupied by letting them plan and pack a box or two of their special things. Consider their input on new decor and the layout of their new rooms. Encourage them to take the time to exchange good-byes with friends and loved ones and get addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers to stay in touch.

While you are preparing for the move, try to stick as closely to your normal routine as possible, and let your children know that, although they will soon live in a new house, the rules of the household will still be the same. Bedtime is still at 9 p.m., and homework must still completed before TV time is allowed. And although Mom and Dad are a little busier and distracted with the move, they love their children very much and are giving the entire household a new opportunity to grow.

On moving day, have a bag packed of personal belongings for each member of the family, being careful to include medications, clothes, and personal items. Let your children choose what amusements and favorite "loveys" they wish to take along, and reassure them they will see their other favorite toys when they arrive in their new home.

Your preparedness will go a long way in reassuring your children that their needs are being considered.


What 7 most distressful situations to kids that divorced parents should avoid? Learn them to spare your kids from the painful consequences.

1. Carrying Message Between Parents

A child doesn't like the feeling that he or she must act as a messenger between hostile parents or carry one adult's secrets or accusations about another. Children want parents to talk with each other so that the messages are communicated the right way and so that children don't feel like they are going to mess up.

Parents must take the responsibility to talk directly with each other, especially if the topic is likely to anger the other parent. It is unfair to make your child carry messages to your "ex" because you find it too awkward or aggravating to do so yourself. It is also poor parenting to show by example to your child that you can resolve a problem with another person by not communicating or to suggest to a child that the other parent is such a monster that you cannot speak or be civil with each other.

Wherever possible, communicate directly with the other parent about matters relevant to the children, such as scheduling, visitation, health habits, or school problems.

2. Getting Involve With Money Issues

Avoid arguing and discussing child support issues in front of the children. How would you feel if you are that child hearing mom and dad arguing about your financial support? Most children upon hearing these things feel that their existence is some kind of parent's burden.

Who will pay for what and how available money should be spent are adult issues that the parents must discuss directly. Do not put your children in the middle of your child support disputes.

3. Hearing Criticisms Of The Other Parent

It hurts a child very much to hear one loved parent criticize the other loved parent. Children see themselves as half of each parent. When children hear bad things about one parent, they hear bad things about half of themselves. If they hear bad things about both their parents, they feel that both halves of them must be of little worth.

Even if you are sure you're right, try to avoid criticizing the other parent around the kids, and try to find good things to say, or don't say anything at all.

The following is a list of destructive remarks that you should not make to your child. If you find yourself saying words like these, stop and think about their impact on your child.

? You're lazy/stubborn/bad tempered, just like your mother/father. ? Your mother/father put you up to saying that. ? Your dad/mom doesn't love any of us or he/she wouldn't have left us. ? You can't trust her/him. ? He/she was just no good. ? If she/he loved you, she/he would send your support checks on time. ? Someday you'll leave me too, just like your father/mother.

All of these remarks raise fear and anxiety in children.

4. Quizzing Children About The Other Parent

Do not make your children a spy in the other parent's home. It is very difficult for a child of divorced parents to cope with feeling "caught in the middle". If they want to tell you about time spent with their other parent (and they usually don't), listen closely and politely, and then stop. If they don't volunteer any information, try simply, "Have a good time? Good."

Encourage your children to love both parents. They must not be burdened with having to align with one parent's anger against the other.

5. Taking Sides

Your child wants to love both of his or her parents. Asking your child to take your side in any situation regarding your ex-spouse can create a tremendous amount of stress for your child.

Avoid putting children in the position of having to take sides. Allow your children to continue to love both parents without being made to feel guilty or disloyal.

6. Dealing With Parent's Feeling

Complaining to your child about how lonely you are after the separation makes a child feel guilty and sad and want to "parent" you. It's not healthy for them to be consumed with worry for their parents' ability to survive.

Let your child be a child. They need the freedom to be children. It's easy, but wrong, to make your adolescent child, or even your adult child, a confidant in dealing with your recovery, your dating life, or your fears. Even if children seem capable of handling these concerns without ill effects, they rarely are.

7. Threatening To Cut Off Contact With The Children If The Other Parent Doesn't Do Or Stop Doing Something

The kids hear these threats and fear more loss in their lives. Such conduct hurts your kids and must not be continued.

Recognize that for your child to have the best chance of growing up to be a functional human male or female, he/she will need both parents as role models and nurturers. This means that there should be some pathway of getting through to the child whatever good that parent has to offer.

Anything that puts a child in the middle of dispute is unhealthy, and causes the most problems for divorcing families. If parents don't work issues through, those issues have a huge effect on their kids.

It can be hard to do, but parents can improve a situation by recognizing their divorce is from each other, not the children. Kids need to see that even though their parents might not love each other, they are committed to staying connected because of their responsibilities as parents. At time, this may seem absolutely impossible, because the parents can't tolerate the idea of being connected. Yet the child needs both of them, psychologically if not in reality.

 by Ruben Francia.

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