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Kids watch their divorcing parents’ behavior

If you’re going through a divorce, you can’t be blamed for experiencing a wide range of emotions. However, if you have children, it’s essential to realize the impact that these emotions can have on them and how they deal with relationships as they grow into adults.

Obviously, sharing your feelings may be necessary for your own well-being during this time. However, you should do this with a therapist, family members or close friends — not with or in the presence of your children.

Here are some tips for helping your kids get through this tumultuous time in their lives:

— Both parents should keep their promises to their kids, especially when it involves spending time with them.

— Give your children privacy and space when they’re with your ex-spouse, regardless of the custody arrangement. You may want to give them cellphones, if they don’t have them already, so that they can contact you if they want or need to.

— Don’t undermine your ex to your children, even if he or she is doing that to you. You can be a role model to your children of how to behave civilly in the midst of a difficult situation. Don’t portray yourself as a victim to your kids, even if you feel like one.

— Remember that it’s fine to let your children know that you have feelings about what you are going through. However, it’s important to keep your emotions under control in front of your kids.

— Even if things are acrimonious between you and your ex, it’s never too late to turn things around for the sake of the kids.

A divorce can actually have a positive impact on kids. If they see their parents happier in their new lives, working through their differences to be good co-parents and learning to live on their own, they can grow into stronger adults. If you need resources to help you get to this point, your family law attorney can likely recommend a therapist or support group to help you.

Source: Huffington Post, “How Parents’ Behavior Affects Children During a Divorce,” Peter L. Stavinoha, Ph. D., Sep. 15, 2015

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