We began the sensitive but important discussion of protecting kids' best interests in a divorce in a prior post. While not one method of handling the issue will fit all family cases, we hope that some general advice on protecting children during the divorce process will provide some helpful guidance and confidence for parents who know that their marriage is no longer sustainable.
The past blog post discussed things that parents should not do when telling the kids about the divorce. This post expands that subject matter by guiding you on how to keep kids out of the conflict that tends to come up during a divorce:
Find a level head
If you and your ex can somehow get to a place where you are working more out of reason than emotion, that relatively peaceful situation will be good for your children. Letting anger, sadness, frustration or fear guide the divorce and your interactions with your ex can create an overall more stressful process. Kids can sense more than we might think.
Address kids' likely concerns
Kids do sense more than we might imagine and they can also take on some of the stress that a divorce causes. Children will go so far as to take on some of the "blame" for the end of a marriage. You know that your divorce is not your kids' fault. Make that reality clear to them - clearly and consistently.
Also, clearly, consistently and compassionately tell your children that you love them. Let them know that your ex loves them. Basically, you want your kids to know and feel that the divorce is caused only by the grown-ups' decisions and only impacts the relationship between the parents. Love toward the kids is unchanged and as strong as ever.
Even if you can follow just these pieces of advice, your kids have a solid chance at getting through and out of your divorce on solid, healthy ground. A secure and well thought-out child custody situation is also important to the well-being of your children. Your family law attorney can help you achieve what you believe is best for the kids and your future as a changed family.