Divorce tends to hit children hard. They have no choice in what happens to the family structure, and they have to deal with change and conflict on a regular basis. To minimize the impact divorce has on the children, consider these tips.
First, resist the urge to put down the other parent. Divorce happens for a reason – two people no longer want to live together and may very well not like each other. With emotions running hot, it may be tempting to turn that anger into verbal expressions to the children. It is best for the children, however, that both parents keep their emotions to themselves and speak of the other parent in positive terms only, because while one parent may no longer care for the other parent, for the children, the other parent is always their parent.
Second, do not use the children as pawns. It can be tempting to speak through the children to the other parent, but doing so only places the children in the middle of a conflict that has nothing to do with them. It also forces children to take sides or become manipulative in their own right.
Third, money will not compensate for ending a marriage. Some parents with means who feel aggrieved by a divorce outcome try to buy back the children by taking expensive and frequent trips or buying the children lots of expensive stuff. This behavior only sends the wrong message to the children that money and love have some connection.
Fourth, parent as a united team. Children need consistency in basic rules and norms. If one parent becomes oppositional just to be oppositional, the rules break down and children get confused and could be tempted to be manipulative or even eventually to choose sides because they like one set of rules over another. Children benefit most when they know rules apply across the board.
If you follow these basic tips, you will go a long way toward making life better for your children.
If you have questions about children and divorce, contact us – we can help.