Kids are often the biggest concern people list when discussing divorce. How will they be affected? What can we do to make it easier?
There’s a good reason to be concerned: children caught in the middle of their parents’ divorce fare far worse, with more emotional problems, lower grades, and behavior struggles. When your kids are 30, how do you want them to tell the story of your divorce? You can make it less of a struggle for them by doing the following:
- Create a parenting agreement. Fighting over the kids and dragging them into court is going to make things worse. The agreement should list out when children will be with which parent, what happens if something comes up, how you’ll handle holidays and school breaks, who will make educational and medical decisions, and more.
- Tell them the news together. Learn more about how to do that in our post “Protecting Your Children During A Divorce.” Starting with that united front will pave the way for a good co-parenting relationship.
- Communicate on your own. Sending messages through your children seems like a good way to avoid speaking. But you are still both the parents. Don’t talk about divorce business in front of the children or during an exchange. You’ll also need to talk about birthdays, who will pick whom up, grandparent visits, trips, and many other things. Telling your kids to “remind your dad about Saturday,” puts more of the divorce weight on their shoulders. You might make a short list of items and schedule a weekly phone call. Pretend it’s a work meeting and treat it with the same businesslike manner.
- Avoid badmouthing your ex in front of the children. He or she may have cheated and lied. But that person is still your children’s father or mother. Save your complaints for your friends. If you left due to concerns about your children’s physical or emotional safety, speak to a therapist about having those conversations with your children.
- Don’t make them choose sides, even in subtle ways. Your kids love both of you and need both of you.
- Don’t ask about your ex’s dating life.
- Don’t ask your children to keep secrets from the other parent.
- Maintain their lives as much as possible, minimizing disruptions to their normal activities.
- Make sure you and your spouse are both involved in their lives. If you can manage to attend your children’s plays, games, meets, and parties together, do so. Your child will appreciate having both of you at his or her big events.
Questions about divorce? Contact us to schedule a consultation today, or visit our monthly workshop to hear from a therapist, one of our family lawyers, and a financial advisor.