When parents divorce, their children always have questions. They fear the unknown and wonder what their new life will be like, just as their parents often do. There are things parents can do that can create positive outcomes for their kids.
Positive Outcomes for Kids During the Divorce Process
Some specific steps you can take include:
Minimize conflict. The most important thing you can do is to minimize conflict. Parents should not argue in front of the children. This includes arguing when the children are in the house, or during transitions of the children from one parent to the other.
Don’t make your child your confidant. Children will be curious, but they should not be told details of the divorce—they need to have the freedome and permission to continue to love each parent and should not be involved in trying to blame one parent for the divorce. You and your spouse should work together to control the information you provide your children. Make sure the children are not receiving conflicting stories.
Don’t make promises you cannot keep. This is particularly difficult at the beginning of the process when children ask things like, “Will we have to move?” Answer honestly, but don’t promise specific outcomes unless you are certain that the outcome is going to happen, for example, you have a written agreement or court order. Assure them that they will always have a home, and that the two of you will always be their parents, and that the child will spend time with both of you.
Don’t use the children to pass messages. Keep the adult stuff between adults and the kid stuff for the kids. Don’t send messages through the children. Don’t send the support check in a child’s backpack.
Positive Outcomes for the Kids After the Divorce
It will likely take some time for the children to adjust to their new life. Some things you can do to help include:
Assure them they can love both parents. Make sure you both let the kids know it is okay to love you both, and it is okay to enjoy the time they spend with the other parent. Never ask them to take sides.
Don’t let them see you being upset. You may be sad or angry. It can be hard to see you child happy to leave your care and go with the other parent. Do your best to shield the children from seeing you sad or upset.. When they see you upset, their instinct is to try and fix it. It is not their job to fix you. Their job is to be children, focus on their school work, do chores at home, and be nice to their siblings, etc.
For assistance with Collaborative Divorce and how the process works to help you create positive outcomes for your children, contact the team at Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law.