What should parents do – and avoid doing – to help their kids cope with the stressful changes of divorce? In a program called Children of Divorce and Changing Families, children ages 10 to 12 were asked to create a set of rules they wish parents would follow.
- Don’t bad-mouth the other parent. This is common and strongly felt wish. Children don’t care if the criticisms are true or not; it hurts them deeply to hear negative things about someone they love.
- Don’t involve them in adult matters. Situations between grown-ups are often beyond kids’ comprehension, so it confuses them and makes them feel anxious and powerless.
- Don’t punish your child for still loving their other parent. Making your child feel sad and guilty hurts them as much or more than your ex.
- Get along at big events. For the kids’ sake, divorced parents should at least be civil to each other in public and at family gatherings.
- Don’t make your child choose sides. Kids cite this as “the worst thing” a parent can do.
- Don’t fight in front of your kids. It makes children deeply uncomfortable to hear and see fighting between the two people they love most.
- Kids aren’t appropriate messengers. Your children don’t want to be put in the middle and hear what you’re talking about. Please communicate with your ex through an online co-parenting tool, text, email, or phone call.
- Don’t take out your anger on your children. You may be hurting, but your kid shouldn’t bear the brunt.
- Don’t force kids to spy. Making them answer questions about their other parent feels like a betrayal, and it hurts them.
- Children want one-on-one time with each parent. This is another fervent wish that kids make. They may not be able to get equal time, but they often wish they could.
We say, please listen to your kids. They have a right to be happy and sheltered from grown-up matters.
With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Raza & Jones, LLC, can help parents and children to cope better with the life-altering challenges of divorce. For questions, or to schedule a confidential consultation, call 314-449-8830.