As tough as divorce might be for two grown adults, it can be even more difficult for the children involved. From seeing their mother forced to hire a California child support attorney to take their father to court, to the confusing shuffling between residences, to witnessing their parents shouting at each other in public, children can be affected in so many negative ways, ways which will echo down the years, resonating and staying with them as they grow older and begin to forge relationships of their own. Even if parents can barely be civil to each other in private, their common goal throughout a divorce should be to minimize the effects of their split on their shared children.
Here are some ways you as a parent can be proactive if your family is going through a divorce.
Never Badmouth the Other Parent in Your Kids’ Hearing
If your divorce is not going smoothly then you will need to vent about your spouse, and that is fine. However, it should never be to, in front of or anywhere near the hearing of your shared children. Not only does it set a terrible example, in some cases children internalize your frustration and disappointment and suffer from guilt, believing that they have some part in making you feel this way.
Promote Understanding about Changed Holidays
Christmas and other family-oriented holidays will be different from now on, but letting yourself and your children wallow in the sadness is not healthy for either of you. Don’t turn holidays into another battlefield with your ex, either.
Keep Your Children Neutral
It is unhealthy and just plain poor parenting to try and make your children choose “sides” after a divorce. Saying things like, “If you loved me, you would live with me” is tantamount to psychological manipulation – on your own children. Staying civil with your ex and treating him or her with respect, whether he or she is present or not, is a good instance of teaching by example, while also hopefully mitigating your kids’ guilt and anger over the new situation.
Stay Attuned to and Encouraging of Your Kids’ Emotional Expressions
In some cases, a counselor or therapist will be a good, neutral option for ensuring that your kids’ emotional well-being is attended to. And you shouldn’t be alarmed if they express themselves with anger – understand that they are entitled to that, and it might be a good opportunity to get them to talk about how they are feeling. But it’s also important to stay vigilant and ensure that their frustration isn’t being funneled into unhealthy behaviors, like drinking, drugs or self-harm.