I don’t know if there is anything more difficult to go through in life than a divorce. The effects of a divorce can be felt for months, and even years down the road for both parties involved. But, if you have children, it will last a lifetime. Planning any divorce should be taken seriously, and even more so when children are involved.
I am not taking sides on this issue, although I do believe that divorce should be the last option taken in any marriage. Rather, the purpose of this article is to give you information and hopefully cause you to think about the most important thing amongst all of this, your children.
Far too many times we see and hear about children who are the victims of a divorce. Whether it is during, or it’s after the divorce it is so easy to blast the ex-spouse in front of your children. If fact, many times a parent will do this and not even realize they are doing it. Other times though, it is done with malice. We see the results of what this destructive behavior does to our kids over the course of time. It can easily cause learning problems in school, emotional problems and a failure to get along with others. I could go on with an entire list, but you already know about the damage it can cause to our children.
Being a good parent and role model in your children’s lives requires a lot of effort on your part. It’s not easy at times, but it can be done. Here are 5 tips to help you in handling the after effects of a divorce and your children. It will also cause you to see things from your child’s point of view, and hopefully make any necessary adjustments.
1. Never speak negatively about the other parent to your children.
This is without a doubt the most important rule to follow. No matter how bitter you are and no matter how hurt you are, don’t tell your children how you feel toward your ex-spouse. Saying things like “Your father is such an idiot” or “Who is your mother’s boyfriend this week?” will do nothing but bring pain and emotional damage to your child. They don’t deserve that.
How would you feel if you were in their shoes? What if your mother or father started trashing the other one in front of you? It would hurt, and it would hurt real badly. Remember, your children love the both of you. You are the only true mother and father they will ever have, no matter how many times you re-marry. If you continue to throw out insults and spew hatred toward the other parent, your children will eventually not want to be around you. It’s only normal.
2. Never fight in front of your children.
I know this should be an obvious point and needn’t even be brought up, but all too often we see ex-spouses do just that in front of their children.
Think of what fighting with your ex does to your kids? Think of how much it hurts them to see and hear it? They just want to escape. They don’t understand why it is happening and they feel like they have to choose sides. This leads to the next tip…
3. Never use your children as a pawn in a game against your ex-spouse.
Life after a divorce is no game for anyone, especially your children. Don’t use your children to try and gain some sort of personal revenge against your ex. It will only backfire and drive a wedge between you and your children. Again, your children have to be the top priority after a divorce.
4. Make sure that both you and your ex-spouse are a part of your children’s everyday life.
I know this can be difficult at times, but it’s even more difficult on your children right now when they don’t get to see the other parent.
If you have custody of your children, don’t use that to try and eliminate your ex from their lives. It can be so easy so tempting to do, but don’t do it. Let the kids see the other parent as often as possible, not just every other weekend, or whatever the divorce papers say. At least let your children talk on the phone as often as they wish with the other parent.
Your children and their emotional well-being are the most important aspect here. If you try and wipe the other parent out of the picture you’re only hurting them. Put your children first and they will be much happier.
5. This last point really goes along with the previous one, but make sure that both you and your ex-spouse are involved in your children’s education, school functions and any other activities.
If you have custody, be sure to let your ex-spouse know when that soccer game is to be held, or when your daughter’s ballet performance is scheduled. No matter how hard it may be at the time, include the other parent. If they don’t want to be there that’s fine, at least you let them make that decision.
Think about how happy your children will be when both mom and dad are at that special school play? They want you both there in all their activities if at all possible. It’s a vital part of their life. Don’t try to ruin for them by keeping the other parent away.
There is no question that divorce is one of the most traumatic events a person will ever go through in their lives. For your children it is the same way, only magnified many times over. They had no choice in the matter. Their life was forever changed by your decisions.
Make it as easy on them as humanly possible. Don’t continue to cause them emotional pain by having to re-live your feelings toward your ex every day. If you will rise up and put your children’s emotions and needs ahead of yours, you will be on the road to helping your children lead a more happy and healthy life.