Divorce is stressful for the whole family, but it can be especially hard on your children. If you and your spouse are going through a divorce, you can help your children to adjust to the changes with some simple actions. It is possible that you can cause even more stress for your children, however. Protect your children and learn what you should never do during a divorce.
Avoid Fights in Front of Your Children
Fights are often unavoidable during such an emotional time, but that doesn’t mean that you have to have them in front of your children. Keep your discussions civil when your children may overhear you, and save emotional outbursts for in private. Fighting in front of your children may cause them stress, hinder their social skills and ability to express their emotions, and can lead your child to feel as if they are at fault for your breakup.
Don’t Speak Poorly of the Other Parent
They may be your soon-to-be-ex, but your spouse is your child’s parent as well. Trashing the other parent to your children or in front of them can harm their chances of maintaining a healthy relationship with both parents. Your child may feel forced to pick sides, and you may not be the parent who is chosen by your child.
Never Use Your Children to Communicate with Your Spouse
It may be tempting to avoid your spouse completely and use your children to carry messages for you, but this is unfair to your children. They should be left out of your break up as much as possible, unless it concerns them. Asking your child to relay messages back and forth pushes them into an uncomfortable position, and they may not need to know the intimate details of your divorce.
Don’t Ask Your Child to Choose a Parent
Asking your child to pick sides may harm their relationship with one or both parents. They may have to choose which parent they prefer to have primary custody, but it has become far more common for parents to co-parent their child and share custody evenly. Many judges believe that maintaining a relationship with both parents is in the best interests of the child. Unless there is a tangible danger or cause for concern that prevents your child from interacting with both parents, they should be allowed to have both parents in their life.
Never Blame Your Child for Your Break Up
Even if it’s only a moment of frustration and misplaced anger, you will never be able to undo the harm of blaming your child for your divorce. Instead, be sure to reassure them the divorce isn’t their fault and they are not responsible for their parents’ relationship or breakup.
Avoid Asking Your Child to Spy on Your Spouse
If you aren’t speaking, it can be easy to ask your child questions about their other parent to learn what they are up to. This also can force your child to choose between parents and place additional stress on them. Resist the urge to pry, and instead ask about your child’s time with the other parent and encourage them to maintain a healthy relationship with their other parent.
Don’t Neglect Your Child’s Emotions
Divorce is a time of change for the entire family. Your child will have many emotions and needs during this time as they adjust. You may be grieving the end of your relationship, but it is important not to lose sight of the fact that your child is also grieving the end of their family as it was. Your family will continue to exist in a different way, so you should try to help your child understand the changes and why they are occurring. Be sure to set aside time for your children to ask questions or seek comfort. You also should try to spend time with your children doing something fun to provide relief from the stressful changes they are experiencing.
Don’t Use Your Children to Bargain
You may feel hurt or betrayed, and you may be looking for a way to get back at your spouse. Or you may be concerned about having your needs met in the settlement, and are looking for a way to resolve that. Whatever your reasoning is, your children shouldn’t be used as bargaining chips. As a parent, it is up to you to ensure your children feel cared for and loved, and that their best interests are met. Avoid using their custody to force your ex to act in a way you desire.
At the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC, we know how difficult divorce can be. This challenging time can affect the whole family, and it is important to us to provide compassionate, individualized legal services to our clients and their families. Our Dutchess County divorce attorneys are prepared to help you with all your divorce needs, from child custody and support to property separation negotiations.