The decision you make about the process you are going to use for getting divorced is the first decision you will make to limit the impact on your children. Not all clients are aware that they have choices because not all attorneys educate their clients about ADR (alternative dispute resolution) options. Parents can minimize the impact on their children by choosing mediation or collaborative divorce. Or, they can retain attorneys trained in mediation to settle the dispute or a private judge to help facilitate a settlement. Litigation in public court is usually a last resort but unavoidable in some cases.
No matter which process option is chosen, here are some important rules that parents can follow to shield their children from the impact of divorce:
- Children should be encouraged, and parents need to remember that children are entitled to love both of their parents. It’s critical for children that they be protected from the conflict.
- Do not talk badly about the other parent. This causes children to feel badly about themselves. It causes them to feel torn in two different directions.
- Do not talk about the divorce or other grown up things. There are certain topics that should be off-limits. Do not make your child feel badly when they talk about their other parent or show joy. They should be entitled to enjoy their time with both of their parents.
- Do not interrupt the other parent’s time by making repeated or unnecessary telephone calls.
- Try not to argue with the other parent in front of the child. Arguing is frightening and really turns a child’s stomach inside out.
- Do not use your child as a messenger for relaying messages to the other parent. Consider using Our Family Wizard or another co-parenting app.
- Do not ask your child to spy on the other parent.
- Do not treat your child, especially your teen, like your therapist, or an adult. It is important not to blur the boundaries. If you need emotional support, you should ask your therapist or a trusted friend for help.
Following these rules will help to protect your child from conflict and improve their long-term prospects for success in life. Children who are caught in the middle may go on to have problems with substance abuse, anxiety, or depression. Help your child to feel safe emotionally and have loving relationships of their own down the road.