Toni Nieuwhof, a divorce attorney and wife to Pastor Carey Nieuwhof, talks about how parents can navigate divorce while preserving a healthy co-parenting relationship with their former spouse and keeping their kids’ emotional well-being intact in today’s episode of the Parent Cue Live podcast.
- Maintain perspective in the moment. Divorce is hard on everyone involved. Try to maintain empathy for your kids and your former spouse.
- Keep things familiar. Your kids are likely feeling afraid and vulnerable right now. Keep as many things familiar to them as possible so they can have a better time processing their new normal.
- Reinforce your love for your children. Tell your kids often that both mommy and daddy love them very much and ensure they feel secure in their relationship with both parents.
Divorce happens, and it’s something we have to talk about because it’s a reality for many families. In fact, nearly 50 percent of kids in the United States will witness the divorce of their parents while they’re still in the home, studies say. This life challenge — on top of all of the others you have to deal with — adds an additional layer of difficulty to parenting.
Though divorce wreaks emotional, mental, and sometimes financial havoc on every member of the family, there’s a way to do it well, or, at the very least, as best as you can.
Why focusing on the right things is important
Toni Nieuwhof is very familiar with divorce. As a divorce attorney in Canada, her law firm specializes in what’s called “collaborative practice,” where they help couples through their divorce in a way that preserves their co-parenting relationship and the emotional health of their kids. So, we were looking forward to chatting with Toni about the best ways to handle divorce that won’t add more chaos and emotional turmoil:
Take some time for yourself. Allow yourself the time and space to grieve the loss of your relationship. It’s important to pause divorce negotiations when you’re in the early stages of grief and not make any major decisions when you’re shocked, in denial, and angry. Make sure your basic needs are met by maintaining proper nutrition and rest as best as you can. Get healing for yourself before proceeding.
Focus on the kids. The best way to minimize emotional impact on your kids is to keep in mind that both of you love your child/children and that their best interest should always be top priority.
Don’t rush the process. It’s only natural to feel like you want divorce proceedings to be done as quickly as possible. This often causes more harm to your family and your pockets. Make a temporary nesting arrangement where the kids stay in the home (being in a familiar place with familiar faces will make this easier) and mom and dad take turns moving in and out. The nesting arrangement gives kids additional time and stability to adjust to their new reality. If necessary, make temporary housing arrangements to relieve financial pressure instead of rushing into buying a new home.
Seek support. Divorce can be isolating. Seek the wise counsel and emotional and spiritual support of others during this time. This would be a great time to speak with your counselor (or find one — your church or divorce attorney should have recommendations) and friends who will be honest with you. Be careful to keep adult conversations as far away as possible from little listening ears.
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VOICES IN THIS EPISODE
Toni Nieuwhof practices family law north of Toronto, Canada. She’s married to Carey Nieuwhof, Founding and Teaching Pastor of Connexus Church. They have two grown sons.
Kristen is the Executive Director of Messaging at Orange, Director of The Phase Project, and co-author of Playing For Keeps and It’s Just a Phase – So Don’t Miss It. She combines her degree in secondary education with a Master of Divinity and lives with her husband, Matt, and their three children, Sawyer, Hensley, and Raleigh, in Cumming, GA.
Carlos is an author, speaker, and content creator living in Nashville, TN with his wife Heather and 3 kids Sohaila, Seanna, and Losiah. He is addicted to social media, his wife’s enchiladas, and is determined to have his daughters teach him to land a backflip on the trampoline by the time he is 45.
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