Although it may be difficult to believe, we have found that negative impacts on children of divorce are not necessarily the divorce itself, but the continuous conflict and tension between the parents. That is why we strongly encourage our clients to try to minimize the tension and conflict, the better off the entire family will be. Making an effort to minimize the tension and conflict does not mean that one parent has to continually give in to the other just to keep the peace. Often times, parents do not even realize their actions are having negative effects on children, as the actions are usually unintentional. Reducing negative impacts on the children means that both parents are mindful of their actions, compromise and equally minimize the negative effects on the children. Of course, there is no one magic solution to negate all negative impacts of divorce on children, but throughout our firm’s years of practicing family law, we have found a few ways:
Keep the Children’s Lifestyle as Close to Normal as Possible
Although a child’s normal with both parents, living together is no longer possible; it is possible to avoid making too many other changes to their lifestyle. A child’s inability to enjoy a similar standard of living may cause unnecessary stress and negative effects on him or her. In order to avoid this as much as possible, work together as parents to make sure the children can participate in the same activities as they did when you were married. For example, if one of them takes dance classes and the other is a part of a traveling soccer time, it is important to make an effort to not disrupt those activities. Work together to plan costs and transportation to the activities. Some things may be unavoidable, such as the inability to go to out eat as much as in the past, but try to come up with a new fun night like letting the children choose the meal to be prepared at home. Get creative and include them on changes.
Be Mindful of Decreased Time with Each Parent
Every parent wants as much time as possible with their children, but when couples divorce that time will have to be shared. You should keep in mind the effects that the disruption in time with each parent can have a negative impact on children, especially since the ability to spend time with both parents at the same time will be rare. Children often feel a sense of abandonment due to the decrease in time, make sure they understand that the reduction in time does not mean they are loved any less. It is also important to arrive on time for visitation and avoid any changes. If changes are unavoidable, work together to switch visitation weekends to assure the children get their deserved time with that parent.
Be Open and Honest as Age-Appropriate
Divorce is confusing for kids and it is important to be as open and honest as possible with them, however, consider what is age-appropriate. You may want to work with a therapist to help you determine the best way to discuss important issues with them.
On the Other Hand, Avoid Saying Too Much
Yes, be honest with kids and the situation, but they do not need to know all the details involving the cause of the divorce, the process nor the details of the settlement. Avoid talking badly about the other parent, they are and will always be the children’s mom or dad. Be mindful of how your words and actions affect your children now and in the future.
Never Make Children Choose a Parent or Take Sides
Children inherently want to please both their parents. Never ever, make them feel they have to take sides.
Kevin Hickey Law Partners can help you work out the details of the divorce and child custody to make the process as smooth as possible giving you time to focus on your children allowing you to help them make the transition. The best advice I can offer you is that showing children that you can both still provide love and support, emotional stability and emotional responsiveness to them, but they do not have to be married or living in the same home in order to provide these things to them.