Monday, March 19, 2012

Do's and Don'ts of Divorce with Kids

Divorce is a difficult time for every family, but especially the children.  It is important for parents to understand that your older children will be very uncertain about their future.  Against this backdrop, consider these points:

1. You still need to be a parent and address issues with your children. Let them know that you don't have all the answers and it is OK to say, "I don't know."

2. Don't make them choose sides. If you are having a bad moment, don't criticize your spouse to your children. They are not your friends, do not confide in them your fears and anger regarding your spouse.  They need you to be their concerned parent.  Make it very comfortable for your children to remain neutral.

3. Your children are not your spies. Asking questions like, "Does your father have a girlfriend yet?" and "Did your mother have a drink while you were there?" puts your children in the middle.

4. Your children are not a weapon. Asking questions like, "Do you love me or Daddy more?" or "If you loved your Daddy, you would want to spend this weekend with him" are cruel questions. 

5. Your children are not to be spoiled. Many divorcing parents overcompensate with material things to make up for the whole situation. Indulging your children's every whim is not the answer.

6. If your children throw a tantrum, let them. They might need to vent as much as you do. After the emotions of the moment have passed, they will be able to look at the situation realistically.

Sometimes the best advice you can receive, is from someone that is or has experienced divorce for themselves.  Take a look at advice from parents below.

  • -Paul Everitt, Louisville, Colo.; parents divorced 30 years
 I have two boys, and in some respects I think the divorce actually made them stronger people. They had to deal with adversity early and had to learn to land on their feet. And, in a sense, that's not a bad thing. So, while I wouldn't say divorce is fine, I also wouldn't say that it's always a huge negative for kids. It's better than the parents staying together when they really are not suited for each other.

  • -Anonymous, Boulder, Colo.; married four years, divorced seven years
When you're sending your kids to visit your ex, don't send them empty-handed, expecting that your ex will have the things they need. When you send the children on their visits, give them what they need. If your ex does not send the clothing or items back, explain that you send the children with what they need so the visits will be pleasant for everyone, and that the children need these things returned so they will feel good about both parents.

  • -Dom Greco, Poland, Ohio; married five years, divorced 17 years
Dropping off and picking up your children can be really emotional, especially at the beginning of a separation. One way to make it less emotional is to pick up or drop off the kids at school, where you won't encounter your ex. Keep the dropping off and picking up of your kids upbeat. It is OK to tell them how happy you are to see them, or that you missed them. It is never OK to cry; suck it up. We are the reason our children are in this situation.

  • -Alexis, Knoxville, Tenn.; married five years, divorced two years
Don't badmouth your ex to your children. Don't shoot arrows at each other because, I promise you, they go straight through your kids' hearts.

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*article from the bellingham herald