When you decide that divorce is the right course of action for you, we can assume that your child did not get a say in the matter. The only way to protect your children’s emotional interests is to actively put their needs first. Successful co-parenting means that you keep kids out of the middle, even when it’s an uncomfortable choice.
As adults, we must be mature enough to admit that little problems with each other’s parenting often rise to unnecessary levels of importance. Most of the time these issues are small and irrelevant, often nothing more than self-justification. If you redirect your focus onto the bigger issues you can point yourself toward the path that creates the happiest childhood for your children.
Consistency is key for children going through separation and divorce, as they will thrive on stability in order to anchor them mentally during the early stages. Change as little as possible to protect your child’s best interests; this means maintaining consistency at all levels.
“Don’t alter your discipline and reward style in order to earn favor from a child.”
It is unfair and manipulative. You should try to keep simple routines the same such as bedtimes, meals, and extracurricular activities. These items are not bargaining chips, and children feel safest when things are familiar.
Especially in middle school and high school-aged children, helping them stay connected to their authentic support systems is essential. Do your best to encourage and support your children’s friendships and activities. Allow your children to feel that they can share and work through their own emotions and difficulties with those that they trust. Never purposely interfere with a child’s support system for selfish reasons. It is also imperative to focus extra energy on enhancing the quality of your own parent-child relationship. This will encourage a healthy open dialogue with your child and earn their trust throughout the days ahead.
Always remember these are still your children, not your sounding board. Do not share the facts and feelings personal to you with your child. Focus on what your child needs to know to accept the divorce. However, never discuss the day-by-day details of a legal battle.
“Insulating children from your conflict is in your child’s best interest.”
This means showing restraint from sharing potentially hurtful details of a divorce. Insulting your former spouse can make your kids feel the other parent is unworthy of their love, creating an incredibly painful situation for them. You should shield your children from the legal interactions of your divorce in every way possible.
Don’t make your divorce a test of loyalty for your children. Your job is to exhaust all methods to find a way for your kids to maintain healthy relationships with both parents. Adolescents are more likely to have financial worries and recognize the impending limitations imposed by money. Don’t capitalize on these concerns (even if justified) by using activities, holidays, or other situations against them, or by making them feel guilty for wanting to enjoy life as they did prior to a divorce.
“Think of what’s fair to the kids, not to you.”
Conversely, it may seem tempting to buy your child’s favor or loyalty with toys, treats, or activities. Doing this is only harmful to your child as it creates conflict and potentially distrust with the other parent, and can also cheapen your parent-child relationship while creating unnecessary issues with the other parent.
Understand that the other parent may not cooperate and follow these guidelines. By no means should you use this as an excuse not to follow these guidelines yourself. Document as much as possible. And, if the other parent continues to be uncooperative or unwilling to act in the best interest of the children, unfortunately, there may come a time when court intervention is necessary.
Hopefully, these truths will help you along the way during your divorce process, but as always, should you need assistance for your divorce, please reach out to us at 407-403-5990 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.