While divorce can be a traumatic experience for children, research shows that the manner in which the divorced couple parent their children can do much to influence the long term effect that divorce will have on the childrens’ lives.
Make Divorced Parenting Work For You
Here are ten tips to lessen the harmful effects of divorce:
Tip 1. Provide stability for the children. If at all possible minimize the disruption to your childrens’ routine. For example, if possible, the children should continue to live in the same house and continue to attend the same school. It is also important to ensure that the children maintain their standard of living and the necessary financial arrangements, including the timely payment of adequate child maintenance payments, should be made.
Tip 2. Don’t draw your children into your battles. Don’t try to draw your children into disputes with your former spouse by asking them to take sides. It might be comforting in the short term to have their support but, in the long term, you will almost certainly damage their relationship with both your former spouse and yourself.
Tip 3. Keep your problems away from the children. It is very important that you do not argue or fight with your former spouse in front of the children. If there long running arguments, or new arguments over things like financial support or visitation, then sort this out when the children are not around.
Tip 4. Don’t use your children to carry messages. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask your children to pass on ‘everyday’ messages but don’t ask them to pass on messages which could draw them into an argument or dispute between yourself and your former spouse. It’s alright to say, ‘tell you father that I can take you to your dance class on Saturday if it’s difficult for him to get the time off’ but don’t pass on messages such as ‘tell you father that he’s a week late his child support payment again’.
Tip 5. Don’t use your children to ‘spy’ for you. You might be dying to know what your former spouse is up to but don’t use your children to find out. Avoid ‘prying’ questions such as ‘who is your father dating at the moment?’
Tip 6. Don’t try to damage the relationship between your children and your former spouse. Whatever feeling you may have following your divorce don’t voice this in front of your children by putting your former spouse down. It is important for your children to have a loving relationship with both parents and you should not attempt to undermine this in any way.
Tip 7. Don’t turn to your children for support. Having lost the support of your marital partner you may well find yourself turning to your children to fill the gap. Remember that your children have enough to handle without also taking on your problems and, if you find yourself in need of support, you should look elsewhere.
Tip 8. Establish a routine for parental visitation. Your children need frequent and reasonable visits with their absent parent and, as far as possible, you should try to set and maintain a schedule of visits. It can be extremely disruptive to the children if regular visits are frequently cancelled or they find themselves facing lengthy gaps between visits.
Tip 9. Agree a common policy towards discipline. You should reach an agreement with your former spouse on just what is and is not acceptable behavior as also agree a common policy with regard to discipline. This will avoid the children feeling that they are being unfairly treated and also stop them from trying to play one parent off against the other.
Tip 10. Don’t be afraid to seek professional assistance. If you encounter problems which you simply can’t resolve then don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. It’s much better to ask for help than to soldier on in the hope of solving the problem only to find that irreparable damage has been done and you are forced to seek help.