Divorce, especially where children are involved, should never be taken lightly and couples should always exhaust every possible avenue before deciding to separate.
This said, the children should not be used as a reason to stay together. In almost all cases children will normally be much happier growing up with two loving and caring parents who have separated than with two unhappy parents who are living together simply for the sake of the children.
So, having made the decision to divorce, here are five tips to ensure that your children do not suffer any more than is necessary.
Tip 1. Put the needs of your children at the top of your list.
The fact that you no longer have any responsibility for your spouse does not mean that you have no responsibility for your children. Your spouse may not be your spouse any longer, but you children will always be your children.
When planning your future think carefully about your children’ needs and what is in their best interest and make their best interests your best interests. This can be difficult and will often mean that you have to do a certain amount of soul searching and consider carefully whether the plans that you are making for yourself are also the best plans for your children.
Remember that your children do only need to feel that they are important and that they are loved, but they need to know that they are of the utmost importance to you and that your top priority is to take care of them.
Tip 2. Don’t be frightened about talking to your children about your divorce.
While you need to be careful that you don’t draw your children into your marital difficulties, or to do anything to undermine your spouse, it is vital that your children understand, as far as their age will allow, just why you are getting divorced.
Children have very vivid imaginations and if they find that there are gaps in their picture of what is happening they will fill those gaps from their imagination. However, in doing so, they will frequently see themselves in the picture as the villain of the piece and blame themselves for your divorce.
Tip 3. Recognize your divorce as the start of a new relationship.
Although you will no longer be living together as husband and wife you will still need to see a great deal of your former spouse and work together closely in caring for your children. As a result, it is extremely important that you establish a relationship which allows you to do this and which the children see as being both loving and supportive.
It may not be easy, but it is vital that you resolve your differences (or at least agree to put them on one side) and deal with any emotional issues so that you can sit down and agree a parenting plan with which you both feel comfortable.
Tip 4. Agree to monitor your parenting plan.
Once you have a parenting plan, it is also important to review it at regular intervals as the children grow older and as circumstances change. It is also important that you make joint decisions about bringing up your children and provide them with a consistent approach which does not permit them to come between you and to play one parent off against the other.
Tip 5. Provide you children with two loving homes.
Your children need to grow up feeling loved and appreciated by both parents and should not find themselves feeling more comfortable with one parent rather than the other. So, make room available in each home for the children complete with their own toys and space and create an environment is which they can feel equally at home with either parent.