When parents divorce, it is a traumatic, life-changing event for all concerned. But there are things parents can do to ameliorate the potential damage to their children’s lives.
During and after a divorce, parents often are experiencing many of the same emotions as their children — anger, grief, sadness, guilt and anxiety. It’s important that parents protect their children as much as possible from the fallout. Here are some ways to protect the most vulnerable family members.
Don’t Speak Ill of the Other Parent
This is important even when one parent clearly bears the greater burden for the divorce, as in cases of adultery or abuse. It’s harmful to hear negative comments made about the other parent because the child likely still loves them very much. She may start feeling bad about herself for sharing traits and characteristics that are a natural part of her genetic make-up.
Make Co-Parenting a Goal
Out of necessity, one parent is usually named the domiciliary parent. Successful co-parenting involves communication between the parents about issues involving the children — school programs and problems, social agendas, behavioral and health issues, etc. If the parents aren’t yet at a point where they can speak civilly, e-mail is a wonderful way to convey information.
Keep Continuity Going
Acknowledge there will be unavoidable changes. But keep their routines as much the same as possible. If your child typically attends certain events like a ballgame with one parent, allow this to continue even if it means making slight adjustments in visitation schedules. Make sure a child embarking on overnight visitation has all the special “loveys” or security blankets they take to bed to help them feel secure.
Present a United Front on Rules & Discipline
Kids learn fast how to pit Mom against Dad when it comes to divorce. Rules in both home should be roughly the same. Ten-year-olds should not be able to view R-rated movies at Dad’s and 15-year-olds should not be without curfews at Mom’s house. Without cohesive rules in both homes, chaos results.
Make Counseling Available
Despite parents’ best efforts; children may experience some emotional and psychological issues resulting from the divorce that require professional intervention. Don’t hesitate to arrange counseling for them. Reputable attorneys in family law may be able to recommend a qualified children’s counselor who can get them quickly back on track.