Divorces in America are up to about 50 percent statistically. When you are freshly divorced, your first worry is about the children. Do they understand what happened? Do they know they are still loved? How will you not put them in the middle? These are questions that occur to every parent who is newly divorced or divorcing. They're questions David and I agonized over and ultimately what motivated us to forge a relationship post divorce that put them squarely in the center. This is one of the most challenging things you, your ex, and your kids will ever go through, and you're bound to make mistakes. Here are some things to be aware of as you navigate the troubled waters of separation or divorce that lie ahead.
Never use your children for revenge: This is a lose-lose situation and never works. You won't get what you want and only hurt the children psychologically in the process.
Refrain from venting to your children: Telling your children your negative feelings and frustrations toward your ex may feel like your confiding in them, having someone to talk to, but this doesn't help. Even if your children are old enough to understand what you're saying, you don't want your children to have a bias toward one parent or another. You wouldn't want your ex speaking negatively about you, would you?
Don't force your kids to takes sides: Children may know what they want to do, such as choosing to play at one friend's house over another's, but when there is a scheduling conflict between you and your ex, you need to be wary of the fact that it is your responsibility, not your child's, to find a solution. You are the adults.
Resist the Temptation to treat your child like an adult: Children are supposed to be just that: children. It's not fair if you take their childhood away. They shouldn't have to deal with adult problems until they're of the appropriate age.
Compromise: Sit down with your ex. Make an affirmative plan to set aside any differences you may have. Focus instead on meeting the needs of your children. This way, you won't put your children in the middle of potential arguments.
Speak positively: Make a rule for your children to never speak disrespectfully about the other parent, even if it might be music to your ears.
Communicate: Be in contact with your ex often to confirm or negotiate plans for your kids. This way, you and your ex are always on the same page about plans and both parents are aware of any and all positive or negative events in the child's life.
None of these are easy to accomplish, especially when your divorce is new and you're frustrated with your ex, but the gift you'll give your kids in the long run is worth putting aside your own ego for the sake of their well being.