Children have no input on whether their parents marry or divorce, and the latter truly causes a great number of children confusion, difficulty and a variety of other emotions. Dr. Marlene Bizub, a psychologist who worked for two decades in the Colorado family courts, suggests seven tips for parents to remember to help keep conflict away from the children. We thought we would share those tips with you.
First, keep the children out of the legal mess of divorce. Adults have to deal with division of property, child and spousal support and of course custody. Children should not be wrapped up in any part of these legal details. Children should know they are loved by both parents as divorce plays out, and kept away from the messy details.
Second, remember to only say good things about the other parent or say nothing at all. In divorce, the spouses run hot emotionally and understandably feel hurt, but these feelings are not shared in the same way by the children, who love their parents. Trash talking another parent only hurts a child who loves that parent.
Third, no Sophie’s Choice for the kids – they should be able to have a healthy relationship with both parents and not made to choose one over the other.
Fourth, think very carefully about introducing a new partner to the children. Post-divorce relationships may become something permanent or not; the children should not have to deal with the dating life of a parent. Rather, kids want to know they have the consistency of the attention of their parents.
Fifth, do not turn children into messengers. If you have to communicate something with your former spouse, use whatever means the court approved – phone, text, email. Handle these issues yourselves. Do not resort to letting kids carry these adult messages.
Sixth, try very hard to work as a parental unit even in two households. Kids need stability, and the best way for that to happen post-divorce is to make sure that the households have the same basic operating rules and that neither parent undermine the authority of the other.
Seventh, always let the children know both parents love them; try to be sensitive to their needs in transition.
If you have questions about custody and divorce, contact us – we can help.