Ten Tips for Divorcing Parents

Divorce can be the most grueling, emotionally exhausting experience many couples will go through. For their children, it can be even worse. However, though divorce is never easy on a child, it can present opportunities in disguise. A child’s emotional health after a divorce is often dependent on his parents’ behavior during the divorce. There are several steps parents can take to ensure the best outcome for their children.

Tip #1: Never “bad-mouth” your spouse in front of the children.

Children know they are “part mom” and “part dad”, and criticism of their other parent can deal a blow to their self-esteem.

Tip #2: Talk to your children honestly.

Give them straight-forward, age-appropriate answers without vilifying the other parent. Encourage them to open up to you, and listen as they express concerns about the divorce.

Tip #3: But at the same time, don’t have them act as your counselor.

Children, even older ones, don’t need to hear the grisly details about the actions of their other parent. Resist the urge to lean on them for support; rather, depend on adult friends, family members or experts to help you get through these tough times.

Tip #4: Don’t compete for your child’s love.

Stick with healthy boundaries, and resist the temptation to try to “buy” their love.

Tip #5: Don’t put them in the middle.

That includes having them relay messages or deliver support payments. The less children feel like a part of the battle, the better.

Tip #6: Seek counseling for your children if they’re having a difficult time adjusting.

Counseling is most effective when both parents are supportive and individually involved.

Tip #7: Explain to the children that the divorce is not their fault.

Children, particularly younger ones, are self-centered and tend to assume their parents’ hostility is their responsibility.

Tip #8: If you have a drinking or drug problem, get help right away.

Your children need you more than ever during this time, and an impairment keeps you from giving them the healthy attention they need.

Tip #9: Be reasonable and flexible with visitations and decisions regarding the children.

Don’t deny your spouse time with the children for the sole purpose of gaining a “win”.

Tip #10: Continually remind yourself that your children’s interests – not yours – are paramount, and act accordingly.

It’s very difficult to put aside your anger, especially justified anger, and to do what best for the children. But doing so will encourage emotionally healthy children who, when old enough to understand, will respect you for your selflessness.

By stepping back from their anger, divorcing parents can move closer to overcoming the negativity of a “broken home” and try to maintain a nurturing environment within two loving homes.

For more information regarding alternative methods of divorce resolution, please call Clark & Stevens at 843-842-3500.

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