It’s become increasingly popular for family law judges here in Illinois and across the United States to award parents joint custody. Research in recent years continues to show that it’s beneficial for kids to have both parents regularly present in their kids’ lives.
This research fails to point out that while joint custodial arrangements may be beneficial for kids, such arrangements can also be very stressful. Children thrive on stability and moving between two homes and two different parenting styles can be rough for them.
How can you minimize the stress of joint custody on your children?
You have to consider your child’s age and unique needs when looking for a good approach.
Younger children, for example, often have strong attachments to one parent. They may suffer from separation anxiety if they have to spend too much time away from them. As a parent, you can help your child adapt to this newfound reality by shortening the amount of time between trade-offs to minimize the impact separation has on them.
Traveling between homes can be challenging for kids at any age, especially if these transitions affect your child’s ability to participate in extracurricular activities or hang out with their friends. Parents can minimize the stress that their children feel by allowing them to take their creature comforts along with them to their other parent’s home or getting on the same page in terms of house rules. You can also be flexible in scheduling trade-offs to ensure that they don’t negatively impact your child’s ability to engage in their favorite activities.
Any scheduling challenges or parental conflict can affect both your child’s behavior and performance in school. You and your co-parent can minimize the chances of such strife affecting your child by keeping heated discussions between the two of you out of your child’s earshot. Setting them up with a counselor to speak to may be beneficial as well.
What custody situation works best for your family?
There’s no one-size-fits-all joint custody plan that works for every Wheaton family. You may need to discuss different options to see which one is ideal for your unique needs. A child custody attorney can help you and your ex navigate such discussions in your Illinois case.