These are going to seem obvious whilst simultaneously at times seeming completely impossible. Frustration, passion and bitterness all get in the way of trying to do the right thing and cloud judgement. That being said, no matter the situation you need to shield your kids from what you can for their own mental wellbeing.
Psychologically speaking every aspect of your behaviour influences your child, this is known as parent-child socialization. Often parents aren’t conscious of this or at least not conscious as to the extent of their impact. You have always been role models and teachers to your children, divorce doesn’t change that.
Most disputes between divorced parents are due to money and visitation schedules. Heated arguments, raised voices, open name calling and intentionally trying to turn your child against the other parent are all completely detrimental to the relationship you and your ex-partner wish to have with your child. Avoid pushing, prodding, screaming or any other aggressive physical behaviour towards your ex at all costs. Try and control your body language as well as your tone of voice, this can be difficult but it is necessary. Children are adept at picking up on non-verbal cues. Angry body language can increase tension. It’s better to avoid confrontation for your kid’s sake. Additionally don’t attempt to deny wrongdoing, shift blame or lay all the guilt on your ex-partner. Don’t involve your children in this you could alienate and confuse them. Or equally as devastating, sabotage their relationship with one parent.
Make sure you don’t try and prevent them from seeing or contacting your ex-partner, don’t use them as a weapon to hurt your ex by stopping visits or denying communication. Reach a solid custody agreement, supported by both partners. Stick to it and ensure your child maintains a healthy relationship with you both. That is what is in their best interests.
Never make your child feel guilty for problems that are between you and your ex-spouse. Of course tell them that it is not their fault at all and that you both will always love them but also avoid telling them you hate it when they’re away, or that you miss them too much when they’re with the other parent. In short never guilt trip them or try and make them pick a favorite, that’s a very negative position to put them in.Equally important is to limit complaints. Showing regret for marrying your ex-partner could be construed as regret at your child being born! In addition, discussing financial issues and complaining about this may result in your child feeling like a financial burden and the reason for arguments or stress.
Give your child time before trying to discuss things in detail with them, wait until they’re ready to talk. They need to be mature enough and in the right place mentally to have a deep discussion about why and how things happened. Just make sure that when they’re ready to talk you’re there to explain, answer and most importantly, listen.
Lastly be cautious in how you expose them to new relationships but that’s a whole a new topic!
Krishan Smith is the new senior editor at Custody X Change, a custody softwarespecialist company.