Children of divorce are forced to cope with all sorts of change. The divorce process significantly alters their family dynamic and can complicate the relationship they have with their mom and dad.
Although research indicates children of divorce face physical and mental health risks, it is actually the parental conflict they are exposed to during the course of the divorce that causes harm rather than the actual event of the breakup.
In a way, this should be encouraging for divorcing parents, because it means they have a way of protecting their children and making this transition easier for them. Although you probably have your fair share of differences with your ex-wife and likely harbor some hurt feelings, you should keep in mind that by remaining as amicable as possible and working together to find effective ways to co-parent, you are doing what is in the best interest of your children.
Here are four ways to protect children of divorce from parental conflict.
Do not fight in front of them
Your best strategy to shield your children from the conflict of divorce is making sure they do not overhear any disagreements between you and your ex-spouse. If your ex is particularly disagreeable, some arguments might be inevitable, but do whatever possible to ensure that they do not take place in front of the kids.
Make a pact with your ex that arguments will take place behind closed doors and far away from the children. You can even make an appointment to discuss especially contentious issues at a time when you know the kids will not be around.Make a pact with your ex that arguments will take place behind closed doors. Click To Tweet
Do not badmouth your ex
With so much stress involved in the divorce process, it can be easy to let off some steam by venting about your ex when your children are around. Some dads even use their kids as sounding boards. Do not make this mistake.
No matter what your ex does, avoid saying bad things about her in front of your children. Consistently badmouthing your children’s mother in front of them can lead to parental alienation, which can cause serious emotional and psychological problems for years to come.
Think about how you would feel if your ex was constantly talking badly about you in front of them. Even if she is being horribly unfair to you, your kids do not deserve to hear about all the problems their parents have with each other.
Although proving parental alienation in court can be challenging, it can impact your child custody case, according to Cordell & Cordell divorce attorney Cassandra Pillonel.
“It’s more and more recognized by the courts,” Ms. Pillonel said. “Courts are taking action to correct and remediate issues of parental alienation.”
If you feel your ex is actively working to alienate you out of your child’s life, it might be helpful for you to talk to a divorce lawyer for men about the actions of the alienating parent to see if any legal remedies are available.
Emphasize that it is not their fault
Children of divorce are often plagued with guilt and blame themselves for their parents’ breakup. When you and your wife decide to divorce, tell your children together, as a couple, and emphasize and reiterate that it is not their fault.
Do not go into detail about the problems the two of you have had, but reassure them that you both love them and want to do what is best for them.
Never deny your ex parenting time
One of the most effective ways to ensure children of divorce adjust to their new family dynamic is by ensuring they have healthy, loving relationships with both of their parents.
There is a mountain of research showing that shared parenting is the best post-divorce custody arrangement for children of divorce, so even though you want as much time with your kids as possible, it is in their best interest to also have plenty of time with their mother.
Work with your ex to develop an effective stream of communication so that you can effectively co-parent, and never prevent your children from engaging in parenting time with her barring extenuating circumstances. Not only does this worsen your co-parenting relationship, but it also puts you in contempt of court if you go against a court-ordered parenting plan.