You married. You had children. You raised them for 10 or more years, then determined you no longer wanted to be in a marriage to their other parent. You divorced. Everything seemed to be going fine until summertime came. Now that it's here, you feel stressed, overwhelmed and worried that it's shaping up to be your worst summer ever.
It doesn't necessarily have to be that way. You're definitely not the only California family heading into summer shortly after finalizing a divorce. In fact, talking to friends or family members who have gone through similar experiences may be a first logical step to take to avoid major summertime stress. It's wise to review your court order and make sure both you and your ex clearly understand its terms. Also, keeping pertinent contact information with you at all times gives you easy access to support if problems arise.
Trigger issues that may cause summer stress
There are two kinds of problems: those that occur suddenly and unexpectedly, and those that build up over time. If you recognize potential problems between your children, you and them, or your former spouse and anyone in your household, you might be able to nip it in the bud before things get out of hand. The following list might be useful toward that goal:
- Teenagers and pre-teens tend to be moody. It doesn't always signify a serious problem; in fact, sometimes, it's just part of their normal behavior.
- Try not to let moodiness get to you; more importantly, try not to let it cause co-parenting problems between you and your former spouse.
- Too much of a good thing isn't good. This might apply to electronic devices on summer break.
- If you and your ex can discuss and agree to a general groundwork of rules regarding such matters, your summer may run a lot more smoothly.
- You may not necessarily have the exact same rules in your house as your co-parent.
- Just remember not to let the kids play you against each other. Similarly, avoid using your kids as pawns to get back at each other as well.
- Seemingly benign issues can lead to major summer trouble, such as food. Do you have picky eaters? Do your kids complain that they like the food at their other parent's house better or that they never have anything good to eat while they're there?
- Be ready to diffuse such lamentations and not let them cause post-divorce trouble between parents.
If your ex takes your kids on vacation, you have a right to stay in contact with them while they're away. You should also keep your co-parent in the know if you travel with the kids. Not only is this courteous, it helps avoid serious legal problems.
Where to seek support
There are books, in-person discussion groups, counselors and faith leaders who can help you and your children adapt to life after divorce. In fact, with a strong support network in place, you may be well on your way to building happy summertime memories. If you need the court's intervention to resolve a particular matter, you can tap into local resources for support.