The Ultimate Guide to Helping Your Child through Your Divorce
Divorce is hard on the two grown adults who are consciously going through the process. Even if they have to negotiate for what they want, they have the ability to make the decisions that affect them. Imagine how hard divorce is for the kids who cannot control anything that’s happening. Suddenly, their families are torn apart, they may have to live in another house, and they have no control over any of it.
You can’t change everything for your children. If you could keep your marriage together, you would have. So you can’t give them what they really want, but if you work at it, you can give them the next best thing: Strong, healthy relationships with both of their parents. You can also ease the stress of your divorce on them so that they can start healing faster.
Here are some of the things you can do to help your children through your divorce:
Always be Courteous and Polite
Your children are always watching the interactions between you and your spouse. Even if you think you are keeping your voices down or are not saying anything overtly combative, they can tell what’s going on through your body language, your tone, and your facial expressions. Always be courteous and polite when your children are near, even if they can only hear you on the phone. As a rule, you should try to be courteous and polite even when the children aren’t near. It will improve your behavior when the children are near, and it will improve your overall relationship, making future communications much easier.
Keep Exchanges Non-Eventful
It may be triggering to see your ex when you drop the children off or pick them up, but you have to fight any urge to be rude to your ex or to initiate a conflict. You should keep exchanges as peaceful as possible. If that means you have to keep yourself from saying anything at all, you should do that. Let your ex know that you will be keeping these meetings brief, and make an agreement to talk about any important issues at another time. Limit any conversation to things about what the children need during the visit.
Do Not Interrupt Visits
You may miss your children while they are visiting their other parent, but you should not interrupt this visitation time. Your ex likely also misses the children when they are with you, yet you want to have that time to yourself. Don’t impinge on the time your children have with your ex, either. If there is something urgent, communicate briefly about it. Keep your notes to texts or emails if you can, but if you must talk on the phone, keep it brief.
Encourage Regular Contact
If your children are asking to talk to dad, let them. If your children say they are missing mom, offer to do a good-night video phone call. By encouraging regular contact, you help your children through the transition of the separation. You can help them feel closer to their other parent and assuage their fears that they will no longer have a relationship with both parents. By encouraging regular contact, you are also showing the courts that you are committed to doing what’s in the best interests of the children.
Set Clear Expectations
Hopefully, you and your co-parent already established rules for your children when you were living together. If you don’t, now is the time to establish clear rules. If you already had rules, now is the time to reaffirm what they are and to make a commitment to upholding them. Your children will do a lot better if they have similar expectations in each household. Be sure to create a consistent schedule for them, as well, such as sleep and wake times.
Communicate Frequently about the Children
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to raising children. Suddenly, a child is ill. A field trip is announced. School supplies are needed. A neighborhood kid has become a bully. These are the kinds of things you would usually discuss with your spouse over dinner or at the end of the day. Now that you are separated, you need to make a point of communicating frequently about the kids. Use a parenting app, text each other, set a nightly phone call – choose whatever method works best for you based on the kind of relationship you have. The more contentious things are, the more neutral a method of communication you will likely need, such as an app.
Keep Children Out of the Middle
Never use children as pawns in your arguments with your spouse, such as by threatening to take away visitation if the person makes you angry. Emotions run high, and it can be easy to make these kinds of threats, but doing so will only end up hurting the children. Also refrain from speaking negatively about the other parent. That is still your child’s father or mother, and getting the children to feel negatively about him or her may make you feel good in the moment, but it will only hurt the children in the long term. Keep your negative feelings to yourself and work through them with a therapist. Don’t work through them through your children.
It can be hard to keep a level head through a divorce, but it’s important for the well-being of your children that you do so. Follow these tips and work with a family counselor or therapist to figure out other ways to help your children through your divorce.
Having a good divorce lawyer can help you and your family through the difficulties of divorce. My AZ Lawyers are ready to help. Our experienced and compassionate divorce attorneys can help speed up the divorce proceedings and help you get the settlement you deserve with as little conflict as possible. We offer mediation, and we can refer you to community resources that can help you and your family, as well. Call us in Arizona today to learn more.
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