You and your ex have worked out the large issues when it comes to your children, such as custody and holiday schedules. You basically respect each other as parents so you’ve agreed to leave the day-to-day decisions about the kids to whichever parent is taking care of them.
But there are certain day-to-day decisions that parents need to talk about before divorcing. All kids need consistency when it comes to parenting, especially kids who are going through the upheaval of divorce. And all kids test boundaries—you don’t want yours to have more opportunity to test them because you’re not married anymore.
Mediation is the place to discuss these day-to-day ABCs:
A is for Allowance (and all the other extras the kids want). We’ve all seen the stereotypical “humor” in the movies: Kids discussing how great it is that their parents are divorced because mom and dad are now competing for their love by trying to outdo each other buying stuff for them. Or one parent showers the kids with expensive presents to make up for not seeing them as often. Remember, some clichés are true. You can’t buy love. And you certainly don’t want your kids excited to see you because you’re holding yourself Ray Ban outlet out as their piggybank. It’s very important to be on the same page with your ex about giving money and gifts to the kids. If the kids are getting an allowance from both parents, make sure it’s the same amount. Expensive presents to the kids should be given by both parents. That might mean that behind the scenes the wealthier parent contributes more money or pays for the gift outright. If you’re not comfortable with this arrangement, you can arrive at a cap to spend on gifts that’s affordable to both parents.
B is for Bedtime (TV and homework time too). There are many adjustments your kids will have to make going back and forth between parents. Establishing routines for them will be important and reassuring. Though it might not be possible to set up the same exact schedule for them in both households, mom and dad should be in agreement beforehand about bedtimes, watching TV and homework time. Then the kids won’t test boundaries and try to go to bed at midnight at dad’s and zone out on television for five hours at mom’s. This makes it easier on both parents. And more importantly, your kids will thrive on the structure and consistency.
C is for Candy (and the rest of the kids’ diet). Ideally as parents, you want your children to eat food they enjoy while you sneak in their daily five serving of fruits and vegetables. But now more than ever, neither of you have time to cook: you’re working long hours; divorce is expensive; you have two separate households to run. You and your ex probably won’t agree100 percent on what to feed your kids. But discuss your bottom lines. Do you believe fast food, even once in a while, is poisoning your children? What are the best foods to give them that they would also actually eat? How much candy is too much? You’ll feel better if you discuss this all beforehand. Don’t wait until visitation is in place, and your kids come home reporting gleefully that mom or dad let them eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Chucky Cheese.
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