The end of a marriage can be a stressful and daunting period for everyone involved, including the children. Here are some important things to keep in mind to help minimize the impact of the divorce on the kids.
- Assure them it's not their fault: Your children may feel responsible for the divorce in one way or another, but they need to know that the divorce isn't their fault. They need to know that you and the other parent made this decision because of how you feel about each other, not because of anything the children did.
- Assure them that you love them: Your kids may be confused about why the divorce is happening, and they may feel that somehow the divorce means that you love them less. Tell them that you love them very much and will never stop loving them. This assurance can help stabilize the kids' emotions during the divorce.
- Don't say disparaging things about the other parent: In effect, any negative things you say about the other parent you are also saying about your children. They should still be able to feel good about coming from you and the other parent, and bad-mouthing the other parent in front of the kids should be avoided.
- Don't tell the kids how they should feel: Even adults can have a difficult time regulating their emotions, and your children can't help the way they feel about the divorce. Instead of telling the kids how to feel, it's better to try to be empathetic and do whatever you can to help them process their emotions.
- Don't use your child as a messenger: Making your child a messenger between you and the other parent places a heavy burden on your child. Instead, your child should be focused on the already difficult business of just being a kid.
Get experienced legal counsel.
A competent and experienced family law attorney can help you make informed decisions regarding child custody and co-parenting. While child custody and the establishment of parenting plans constitute a broad body of law in both case law and statutes, the simple truth is that the most important consideration is always the child's best interests. A lawyer with experience in these matters can help ensure the well-being of your child, as well as protect your rights as a parent.