With the start of the New Year of 2014, many are carefully examining their lives and may decide that this is the year to make a big change, including considering separation and divorce. January is the International Child-Centered Divorce Month, as more divorces are initiated in January than in any other month of the year. As you consider this major life change, taking the time to minimize the risks your children may be exposed to as you move forward with divorce is critical to their well-being. When beginning the divorce process, there are several steps you can take to help your children transition to a new family structure.
What You Can Do Now to Make Things Easier for the Children:
- Talking with them about changes in the family;
- Helping them to understand that the divorce is not their fault and that both parents will continue to take an active role in their care;
- Providing safe and nurturing environments for them in both homes;
- Encouraging them to love and enjoy being with the other parent and the other parent’s family;
- Communicating regularly with the other parent about the children and making decisions to support your children’s interests and well-being; and
- Preparing a parenting plan focused on a schedule in which your children seamlessly move back and forth between both parents’ homes.
During the Divorce, Avoid Certain Negative Behaviors Toward Your Children, such as:
- Fighting in front of the children;
- Forgetting to emphasize that both parents will still always be their parents – even after divorce;
- Confiding adult details to the children in order gain their allegiance or sympathy;
- Asking the children to bear the weight of making decisions or choosing sides;
- Using the children to provide you with information about your ex-spouse;
- Putting the children in the middle by asking them to provide messages, answer questions and communicate with your ex-spouse on your behalf in your absence;
- Disparaging, disrespecting or in any way attempting to alienate the children from the other parent;
- Lying to the children to justify decisions that you made that may disrespect the other parent; and
- Neglecting to repeatedly remind the children that they are safe, innocent and very much loved by both parents.
Although separation and divorce is a complex mix of emotional, financial and legal components, there are many highly effective resources available for separating couples and their children. When you are ready to discuss the divorce with your children, remembering to put your children’s needs front and center will ease your journey.