|June 25, 2012|
The divorce process is a painful and frightening process. It is not only the breakdown of a relationship, but it is also the fear of the unknown. Often it is a lifestyle change. You may have to move out of your home and frequently your financial situation will change. However, divorce is a process brought on by adults and all too often the parties, while caught up in their own emotions; forget the impact the process has on their children. The children become victims of unintentional, but harmful mistakes.
When their parents are going through a divorce, children of all ages are upset, confused and frightened. They, too, know their world is changing but do not know how their lives will change when their parents are splitting up.
It is the parties’ responsibility, despite their own emotional needs, to remember that they initiated this event and that they have to put their own needs aside to make this process less painful for the children.
What Should You As A Parent Do?
It is important to keep change to a minimum. Try and keep as much stability as possible. For the first time in the children’s lives, they may be travelling between homes; therefore keep any routines or traditions in place. For example, if Friday night was always “Pizza Night” no matter which spouse they are with, keep this tradition.
Stay involved in your children’s lives. Make your child feel important. Let your child know that whether or not you and your spouse are living together, his/her activities are still an important part of your world. Try not miss important games, recitals or events; it will have a negative impact on your child.
Do not fight with your spouse to or in front of your child. At the very least this only serves to make your child feel uncomfortable and anxious.
Do not berate or demean your spouse in front of your child. Your child is your child, not your confidante. Your child loves both of you and wants to love both of you. Your child does not want to take sides. Not only should you not disparage your spouse to your child, you should try to present a “united front”. If you know that “Mom” says no TV until homework is done, you should try and remain consistent.
One of the best things you can do for your child is to encourage his/her relationship with the other parent. It is in your child’s best interests to enjoy and spend time with both parents. Don’t act jealous because your child has a good time with Dad or Mom. This only makes your child feel guilty because he wants to please both of you.
No matter what the age, your child is not your friend. There is no need to relate the reasons for divorce. Divorce is an adult initiated process which should remain with the adults. Be honest without placing blame. Children need not know details, i.e., infidelity, out of control spending; children do not want to know who’s to blame. They want to love and respect both of you. Simply put: You cannot live with your spouse anymore, but you will love your child forever.
Often, divorce becomes contentious. It is important that divorcing parties do not use their children in the battle. Children are not messengers. It is your responsibility to communicate with your spouse, not your child’s.
Most of all remember that your child is the product of both of you. You are both his/her family and your child needs both of you. Your child will eventually be an adult and the steps you take today will ensure that you will be in his life forever.