Look I get it, your ex spouse has put you through hell and you are angry. You are hurt and sad, after all you dreamed of making a life with this person.
While you are moving through your emotional pain, you also need to remember that your children did “nothing” to cause your divorce and therefore should be shielded from your “animosity” towards one another. Keeping your children out of your divorce needs to begin very early in the process. If you do not set a specific plan early on for your family you most likely will find yourself in a long drawn out high conflict custody battle that benefits no one.
As your divorce moves through the beginning stages it is critically important to remember to act civilly towards one another when the kids are present. It is also important that you:
1. Do Not Ask Your Kids Where they Want to Live
This is placing way too much pressure on your children and brings up loyalty issues that are not their concern. In fact this very question puts them directly in the middle of your divorce. Never ask your kids to take sides. Decide living arrangements before you tell your children about the divorce. Kids do not decide where they live, parents do.
2. Don’t Prevent Your Child From Seeing the Other Parent
If you have unresolved anger towards your ex spouse then get help to cope with it. No matter how angry you are, please do not keep your children from your ex. Remember even in the worst of times, your children are half you and half your spouse.
3. Don’t Badmouth
Take the high road. This is easier said than done especially when your ex spouse may make decisions that are not in the best interest of your child. Step back, collect your thoughts and resist the temptation to blurt out to your child, “Dad/mom is a Deadbeat.” Remember to address adult issues with the adult, not your child.
4. Don’t Discuss Legal Issues
Legal issues belong in court and should not be discussed with your children. Remember you are not divorcing your kids. In addition, your kids are not your confidants. If you want to discuss your legal case, talk to your lawyer, therapist or your friend.
5. Do Act Civilly
The one thing kids of divorced families tell me they want the most is for their parents to just get along. To divorced children this often means acting civil to one another when you are both in their presence. Please, make a decision from the beginning to always put your differences aside when in the presence of your children. It models to your children that even when people cannot be together they can still respect each other.
Rome was not built in a day and neither was navigating smoothly through a divorce. There will be bumps along the way but following these important tips should make the journey a bit more peaceful.