The one thing that will always make a divorce difficult is children. If a couple shares children, it may be hard for them to compromise on both child custody and child support. Both parents want to spend as much time as possible with their kids and may not trust the other parent to do well in raising them. Many parents should follow the recommendations below to avoid the pitfalls and repeat the good calls of divorcing couples that have come before them to do their best to support their children during this time.
Do Talk to Your Kids
They may not be old enough to understand the most of what’s happening, but children know when something significant is occurring. Likewise, the older they are, the more they understand the repercussions of the divorce. However, children tend to be egocentric, meaning they think the world revolves around them. They may mistakenly believe that the divorce is their fault or that it will somehow change your relationship with them. You need to get your children to understand the divorce wasn’t their fault, and you and your spouse still love them as much as before.
Do Stay Consistent
Stability is essential for children. Divorce may seem like a volatile time, so keeping to a schedule and set of behaviors is important. For example, if you have a standard routine, try to keep to it as much as possible. If you typically punish them for not doing their homework, don’t avoid the unpleasant task of punishing them the next time they skip their homework. Kids may feel angry and scared during a divorce. Their emotions are understandable, and you can acknowledge them even as you fail to tolerate unhealthy or harmful behaviors.
Do Make Time for Your Kids
Even if you’re not currently living with them, you should work with your spouse to ensure you spend enough quality time with your children. Even phone calls are enough to reinforce the idea that just because you moved out, it doesn’t mean you’re leaving them forever.
Do Seek Therapy
If you can afford to take your children to a therapist, do so. Great family therapists are trained to help children cope with their feelings and with the changes involved in a divorce. You may not be able to give them effective coping methods, while a therapist might.
Don’t Tell Them More Than They Can Handle
When you tell them about the divorce, be sure to tailor the information to their age and maturity level. Some kids aren’t capable of handling some information emotionally. Use common sense in determining what to say and what details to leave out.
Don’t Use Your Kids as Go-Betweens
Your children may be the only thing keeping you and your spouse in each other’s lives, but they are not messengers for your conversation. If you don’t want to speak to your wife or husband, write a letter or send a text. Your kids will not appreciate being used as go-betweens at the end of your relationship, particularly if the feeling between you and your wife or husband is bitter.
Don’t Badmouth Your Spouse in Front of Them
Just as you shouldn’t use your kids as messengers, you shouldn’t vent your feelings of anger to them. While your relationship with your spouse may be broken, they still have an entirely different relationship to him or her. You may be angry at your husband or wife, but your children are not obligated to share in that anger. Trying to turn them against your spouse is also a poor decision.
Don’t Encourage Parental Alienation
Some parents are so enraged by their divorce they try and turn their children against their spouse. This type of manipulative behavior is called parental alienation and can be damaging to your child and to their relationship with your spouse. It’s a kind of psychological manipulation that results in a child showing fear, disrespect, or hostility towards the other spouse. It is also considered a form of psychological abuse and family violence. If you are suspected of this behavior, a judge is unlikely to grant you custody.
If you need help with divorcing as a parent, don’t hesitate to call us. Our skilled St. Charles divorce attorneys have more than 20 years of legal experience to offer you and your family. We understand the divorce process can be hard, and we are capable of handling the most contentious situations. Smith Law Offices, LLC is a locally run and family-owned business ready to help people in the St. Charles area. Let us see what we can do for you in a case consultation.
Call us at (636) 400-1177 or fill out our online form to schedule a meeting with us today.