How to build your parenting village after a divorce

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build a parenting village
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Raising kids after a divorce means finding a support system. Even parents who thought they had a parenting village firmly in place may need to do a little reorganizing and rebuilding after separating from a long-term partner. As unfair as it seems, a divorce changes other relationships, as well. You can build your parenting village again with a few simple steps.
Reach out to build your parenting village
It sounds simple: Pick up the phone, send an email, or ask a friend at a school get-together. Yet separated or divorced parents feel reluctant to reach out, even to old friends and contacts who have helped them in the past. Newly single parents often want to show the people around them that they’re in control of their lives.
Reassuring friends you’ve got everything handled might sound good, but it isn’t always the truth. The people who love you want to help you but sometimes don’t know how. Tell them and watch your already-established support system come to your aid.
Understand some friendships might fall apart

Not every friendship survives a divorce. Divorce, unfortunately, affects people outside of the immediate family involved. Some friends might feel they need to take sides, and they might not take yours. Other friends won’t be able to acclimate to hanging out with you as a single human and not half of a couple. Still others hang on for a while but fade away as you make other changes in your life.

All of those separations happen, and all of them are normal. Those people aren’t necessarily out of your child’s life. They might become part of your ex’s village more than your own. While that can sting, remember your child will still benefit from their involvement, even if you aren’t the one to request it.

Expand your circle

Many of us keep our social circle tightly closed. Even the most extroverted people can close ranks when they’re asking for help. When you’re rebuilding your support system, don’t discount your acquaintances — they may become good friends, given the chance.

Maybe you’ve been friendly with a mom at school for a couple of years. Now’s the perfect time to ask if she’d like to exchange playdates — aka childcare. If you’re looking for a little adult conversation, maybe you can ask a coworker out for appetizers after work on a night you don’t have the kids. You might even want to combine the two and ask your coworker and her kids to join you and yours for pizza (for everyone), a movie (for the kids) and conversation (for the adults).

Join a FB group for newly single parents

Sometimes you just want to chat with someone who knows exactly what you’re going through. Friends who have known you for years and maybe grew close to you as part of a couple can be a fabulous shoulder to lean on. However, talking to someone else who’s trying to juggle custody schedules or figuring out how to fill time normally filled with children’s activities helps in a different way.

Meeting other newly single parents doesn’t have to mean asking around at school pickup. Find a Facebook or Meetup group and start chatting. The anonymity helps in a way, too. You’re able to talk about your new normal with people who don’t have opinions about your old normal.

Look for opportunities to foster relationships and not just help

As you build your parenting village after a separation, look for more than help. You might be thinking of the immediate benefit of a support system: help with childcare, carpooling opportunities, and someone to split popcorn with at the movies. However, a real support system means more than finding someone to help you. It means building and fostering relationships. As you discover the most successful ways to co-parent your child, their other relationships will matter, too. Whether you reach out to friends, relatives, or new acquaintances, build a village that will support and nourish you for years to come.