During a high conflict divorce keeping focused on a more positive future is essential. It’s equally as important, if not more important, to help your children focus on this as well. Unavoidable events related to divorce (court dates, dispositions, settlement issues, custody issues, etc) affect a child just as they affect you. It’s essential to know what is going through your child’s mind through all this, help them cope and ensure them you are with them now and forever.
You should always keep three kinds of events in planning: short term (2 to 4 weeks out), medium term (3 to 6 months out) and long-term events (6 months to 1 year out). Short term events can be planning for a family dinner where each week different family members take turns planning a meal, cooking and shopping etc, and the other members of the family support the process in a rotating manner. The child may be given a budget to work with and any money saved could go into an event fund for a larger family event. You can help them save money by teaching them about using coupons and how to look for sales. Take them shopping. Not only are you spending quality time, but you are teaching practical life lessons. Other ideas include local hiking trips, biking or other outdoor activities.
A middle term event might be something such as a camping trip, ski trip, or other weekend seasonal events. These events don’t have to be expensive and budgeting should always be part of the planning. Here, the same ideas apply to planning. Members of the family may take turns selecting the destination or activity, but make it a process where everyone gets that is heard and respected. Plan the event in great detail, from how you are going to travel, if you are going cook, what are you will take with you and what you will buy there. Are you going to buy equipment? If so, start buying things one piece at a time. Look for sales, garage sales, Craig’s List, the internet, etc.
Using the same principles, plan a long-term event. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and by budgeting, you are teaching important planning skills. It can be something like a road trip or a cruise. Whatever it is, take plenty of time for planning. Get your children excited about the event you are planning together. It will help take their minds off the emotions surrounding divorce and give them something to look forward to.
© Brook Olsen 2008