At Smith, Paulson, O’Donnell & Erickson, PLC, we work closely with divorcing parents to get through one of the most difficult times of their adult life. In some cases, Alternative Dispute Resolution (alternatives such as mediation and arbitration) can be a possibility and may prove more cost-effective and less stressful than litigation.
Whatever your path, going through a divorce with children in your family means giving ample consideration to their well-being throughout the process. Here are some tips that keep the children’s needs at the top of your list:
- Call a working truce.
In order to continue parenting effectively and seeing your children regularly, it is essential that you both find a way to communicate.
If possible, speak to the children as a family about the divorce and new living situation. Whether your divorce is amicable or at the other extreme, your children need you to make it possible for them to continue being in both parents’ lives.
Some divorced parents think of this situation like a new business partnership. You don’t need to like each other’s company right now, but you’re both working toward the same goal: a stable, healthy childhood for your kids.
- Help Kids Deal with their Emotions
This may put your parenting skills to the test. Just like you, they are going through many emotions. Kids will be looking to establish a new understanding of family life and their place in it. It could be helpful to have your children see a counselor so that the professional can help them identify, manage, and work through their feelings. Divorcenet.com advises:
“Expect that your children may feel confused, guilty, sad, and/or abandoned in response to the divorce. Acknowledge their feelings as normal and remind them that even though the family is undergoing a major change, you and ex-spouse or ex-partner will always be their parents.”
Going back to communication, if a child wants to speak with or text the other parent, don’t keep them from that. And don’t be a wedge between the kids seeing their extended families.
- Do your best to agree on the fundamentals.
Basic rules, expectations, bedtimes, screen time, and other parenting decisions will be more effective if both households operate under the same rules.
- Don’t argue in front of them.
Keep your communication as civil as possible, and don’t speak ill of your ex when they’re not around. According to KidsHealth:
“Research shows that the single biggest factor in long-term adjustment for kids of divorce is the level of parental conflict they are exposed to. It puts kids in really difficult positions if they want to or have to take sides, or listen to negative things said about one of their parents.”
For more information or to schedule a consultation to discuss your case, visit our Family Law page.