Ruben Francia has an article posted on Your Child – Your Divorce which looks at the best appropriate divorce parenting practices for school-age children. It is well-worth a full read.
Here is his list of some divorce parenting practices that are best for your child:
Explain what is happening over and over again. Children this age are confused easily. In simple terms, explain where your child will live, with whom, where the departing parent will live, and who will provide care when both parents are unavailable.
Encourage your child to talk about how he/she feels. Be sensitive to children’s fears. Let your child know that he or she can openly talk to you about the ups and downs of your separation or divorce.
Read books together about children and divorce. Use books to help your child talk about feelings.
Answer all questions about the changes, and keep lines of communication open. Make sure your child feels like he or she can ask you questions and get answers about why the divorce happened and what to expect.
Plan special time together. Set aside special time to spend with your child but be careful not to make promises you may not be able to keep.
Repeatedly tell children that they are not responsible for the divorce. Children need to be reassured that the breakup wasn’t their fault.
Reassure children of how their needs will be met and of who will take care of them.
Reassure children that everything will be ok, just different. Children are invariably frightened and confused by divorce. It’s a threat to their security. Provide extra hugs and kisses and tell your child that you and other adults will always be near to love and protect
Talk to your child’s day-care provider about the divorce. She will better understand your child’s possible regressive behaviors and will likely offer extra support.
Talk to your child’s teachers or school counselors about the divorce. They may then better understand possible learning or behavioral problems and will likely offer extra support.
Keep daily routines intact. Children feel more secure when there is a standard routine. Stick with bedtimes, no matter at which home the children are. Have some consistent chores. Have some time committed to the child, which is treated as sacred.
Respect, but monitor, your child’s privacy.
Discourage reconciliation fantasies. Avoid dinners, outings, or holiday celebrations with your ex-spouse; they only fuel your child’s fantasies. Instead, emphasize the finality of divorce
Be sensitive to children signs of depression and fear. Seek professional help if depression is prolonged or intense.
Help non-custodial parent stay involve. Let non-custodial parent maintain a regular presence such as a phone call several times each week, messages sent on video or audiotapes.
Plan a schedule of time for children to spend with their other parent. Be supportive of children’s ongoing relationship with the other parent. Remember that children generally fare best when they have the emotional support and ongoing involvement of both parents.