Divorce with children is a challenge to any family. From the emotional distress of the parents to the problems that will face the children, no matter what their age. Managing these experiences and maintaining your family bonds can be difficult, especially when a divorce ends with hostility. So, how can you manage all of these emotions and obligations without taking further toll on your children? Here are a few tips for parents going through a divorce with children, to keep in mind all year long.
Take time to think and breath – Jumping to angry conclusions immediately only causes more problems. Take a moment to breathe and think of the motivations behind a comment or decision. Likely, they were not meant to intentionally hurt or frustrate you. Evaluate the motivations and calmly react to the situation.
Once you have taken a breath or two, you have two ways to express yourself and your feelings:
- Respond using ‘I’ statements – These statements tend to be less hostile and accusatory and instead shift the focus onto your feelings based on the actions of others. By calmly explaining how and why you may feel a certain way, you allow your former partner to empathize and hopefully adjust their actions accordingly.
- Hold your tongue – Like Mom always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.” Some situations will require you to give no response. Body language can also convey your feelings so it’s okay to allow that to speak for you and then remove yourself from the situation.
Show respect for your former partner – If you don’t respect them or if you bad-mouth them in front of your children, you can set up a pattern of disrespect, anger and resentment that can be permanent. Even if you don’t agree with every decisions, don’t let your face, actions or words give it away. Mutual respect will help make the divorce easier for everyone involved.
Communicate Just because you are no longer married does not mean you are no longer a family unit. Communicate with your ex, set up meetings and outline expectations fairly. Include the kids in these meetings as well, they should know that you and their other parent are a united front in decisions, discipline and their well-being.
Don’t split the kids – If you have more than one child, don’t split them between both parents and make them choose. Allow the kids to express their feelings including fears about the divorce and encourage them to talk to their siblings and you about how they are feeling, how things are going and how to handle emerging situations.
Keep your goals in mind – Are you looking to interact amicably with your former spouse for the sake of the kids? Remember that with each interaction these relationships can be altered. Make sure you are always keeping the goals in mind and continuing to move toward them, not away.
Divorce with children can be the most challenging time for a family. Taking time to evaluate your own personal situation, challenges, goals and mean to an end can mean the difference between an amicable decision and a “smack down, drag out”. The tips above are merely an outline for how to approach post divorce interactions, modify as necessary based on your individual experiences.
Divorce mediation is always an option as is counseling. It is always valuable to at least consider these options and determine what the best course of action is. For legal assistance, divorce modifications, child custody and support, call Spooner & Associates. Our experienced team of lawyers and support staff is available to answer your divorce questions, quickly and without judgement. Visit our areas of specialty for more information or contact us to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.
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