Looking to ensure your kids are as happy as possible during your divorce? Great, let’s get straight into 1o tips…
- Make sure your children understand that they are not the reason for the divorce
Children are sensitive. Ensure they know they are not the reason for your divorce. If you have more than one child, it is often better to tell them about the divorce together and with your spouse. That way everyone has been given the same information and siblings can support each other.
- Tell your child you love them.
In the midst of separation and divorce, your child needs to know more than ever that that while your love for your spouse is gone, you still love your children and always will. Both spouses should reinforce this and have the decency to reinforce it on behalf of each other.
- Don’t complain about your spouse to your child.
Complain to your friends, your counselor, your attorney, or whomever else you depend on for support, but not to your children. They should he ever be made to feel that they must be loyal to one parent or the other — this only makes things more difficult for children.
- Get routine back in place.
The sooner your child’s home life gets back to normal, the faster the will get past the initial turmoil and upheaval of the divorce. Routine establishes what comes next in a child’s life, whether it’s in the next hour or the next month. It can be very comforting as he tries to make sense of the changes in his life.
- Try to get along with your ex-spouse.
It will be much easier on your children, your friends, and each other if you establish a friendly relationship as quickly as you can. Depending on the ages of your children, your lives will intersect for many years to come, so you might as well get used to it sooner rather than later.
- Remember that your child is your child, not your friend.
It’s never a good idea to dump all your problems in your child’s lap as if they are an adult friend (even if they are in their teens). Your child may feel that they need to solve your problems, or they may determine that it is them who is the problem.
- Check they are ok.
Talk to your child every week about the divorce, their relationship with you and with their other parent. Make certain that they understand any new changes that have happened, that you love them, and that they are not in any way responsible for your split. You may have said it ten times, but it might be the eleventh time that finally sinks in.
- Ask for your child’s input regarding visitation.
The schedules and parameters that are laid out for visitation may make sense in a settlement agreement or a courtroom, but they may seem utterly ridiculous to your child. If your child is old enough to have extracurricular activities and friendships, check with him to see if you have created schedule conflicts or makes them unhappy. Make sure that being at one residence or the other on a given day does not mean that they will have to give up an activity they enjoy. It’s not fair to set everything up for your convenience and then force your child to accept the arrangement without any input.
- Speak to your ex-spouse, rather than via messages through your child.
Don’t make your child feel like a pawn in a game of chess. Few things are harder on your child than being told by an angry parent, “Oh yeah? Well, just you tell your father that I said . . .” You should never put your child in this situation. Even if you know you’re going to have a tense exchange with your spouse, pick up the phone or send a text and deliver your own messages, and ask that they do the same.
- Tell the school, doctors, and others to send information to both spouses.
If you are the custodial parent, be fair; make a point of providing your spouse’s contact information to the school, the coaches, and others who lead the extracurricular activities in which your child is involved. When one parent stops coming to games, concerts, plays, or other events in which the child is involved, your child begins to think that the absent parent doesn’t care about him anymore and that’s not good for the child. Remember, the child comes first — not the issues between you and your ex.