If you are a parent choosing to file for divorce you likely understand that you and your co-parent must resolve numerous child-related issues before the court can issue a final decree. Only then can you start to move on in life in your own, separate ways. Like all good parents, you want what is best for your kids. There are steps you and your co-parent can take to better ensure a smooth transition for your children while also reducing the risk of future child custody issues.
Your children, like most others, typically take their cues from their parents regarding the tone and ambience of your household. Kids tend to internalize divorce, however, which means they may blame themselves. You can help your children cope and adapt to a new lifestyle after divorce with these tips.
#1: Try not to get kids stuck in the middle of parental disagreements
Your children love both parents, as they should. In fact, most child psychologist experts agree that kids who maintain healthy, active relationships with both parents after a divorce fare better than those who feel stuck in the middle of their parents’ disputes. Your children might feel confused as to where their loyalties should lie if you or your ex draw them into your conflicts.
It is always best to keep adult issues between adults and communicate directly with your ex. Do not ask your kids to deliver messages from parent to parent.
#2: Children who are often exposed to parental conflict experience stress
Not only is it a good idea to avoid making your children feel stuck in the middle of parental issues, it is also wise to try your best not to expose them to constant parental conflict, especially if your relationship with your ex is contentious, as in, you can barely exist in the same room without fighting.
Studies show that kids who are frequently exposed to parental conflict in a divorce often have a more difficult time coping with their circumstances than children whose parents demonstrate a willingness to cooperate and compromise for their sake.
#3: Do not speak negatively about your ex to your kids
Unless there is a legitimate reason for restricting your ex’s access to your children (I.e., substance abuse issues, domestic violence, child neglect, etc.), your transition into a new lifestyle after divorce might go more smoothly if you encourage your kids to freely speak about their other parent in your presence.
It might help your kids avoid stress if you and your ex agree from the start that you will not speak negatively about one another in front of your children. This team presentation can help reduce your children’s stress during the divorce.
What to do if a child custody problem arises
Even with the best intentions, things may not always work out as hoped when navigating a co-parenting relationship with your ex after divorce. You cannot control his or her behavior, but you can control your responses. If, for instance, your ex keeps disregarding the court’s child custody order, you can take immediate steps to bring it to the judge’s attention.
Try to remain calm and avoid direct confrontation with your ex for your children’s sake. Also, know where to seek legal support, as needed, to help you protect your parental rights and better ensure that your children’s best interests are the primary concern during child custody proceedings.