Many parents who are divorcing worry for their children. It's no secret that divorce is tough on kids. However, divorce isn’t all bad. Scientific American reports that most children of divorce do fine over time. To best protect your kids during the divorce, follow these simple dos and don'ts to prioritize their best interests.
Do Watch for Changes in Your Kids' Interests and Activities
Children may find it difficult to verbalize all the complex, painful emotions they experience throughout the divorce and during the aftermath. They might not come to you and complain when they're having problems adjusting to the new normal. However, the pain may be evident when you notice a child's decreased performance at school or loss of interest in activities.
If you notice that your kids suddenly find excuses to not go to school, try to get to the underlying causes. If your children are generally misbehaving or otherwise acting up in ways they never did before the divorce, bring your child to see a therapist for help. Most kids whose parents are divorcing could benefit from therapy sessions.
In addition to bringing your child to see a therapist, you may work with your co-parent to create a plan to encourage children to engage in community activities that will interest them. You may offer your kids a chance to take lessons that appeal to them and encourage them to make new friends. Even providing chores consistently in both homes may help kids adjust to the divorce.
Don't Ignore Touchy Issues If They Impact Your Kids
If your co-parent has a mental illness that may have an impact on how well they can care for your children, you need to mention this to your lawyer. It will probably need to come out in court. While you may fear that bringing the issue up will upset your ex, it is nothing to shy away from because, if left unaddressed, it may jeopardize the safety of your children in the future.
Bringing up a touchy subject such as a co-parent's mental illness doesn't have to be done in a vicious way. Addressing the issue may even motivate your ex to seek help and be able to be there for your children in the future. Your ex should explain what they are doing to treat the mental illness and how the treatment empowers them to consistently and safely care for the kids.
Do Keep Your Dating Life Private
If you want to date other people during your divorce, try to do so on nights when your ex has the children. Exposing kids to a new romantic interest can be frustrating and confusing for some children. It's especially crucial to not invite a new romantic interest to spend the night when the kids are in the home with you, or your co-parent could try to question your moral fitness.
Don't Sabotage the Other Parent-Child Relationship
To thrive during and after a divorce, your kids need to have a healthy relationship with you and your co-parent. Never prevent your ex from seeing your children for this reason even if they owe you unpaid child support. Do your best to ensure that your children get to spend plenty of time with your ex each week. Keep criticism of your ex well out of earshot of your kids.
Finally, contact Bahrie Law with any questions and concerns you have on divorce and family law. You should consult an attorney before you even file for divorce. Prioritize discussions of family law and custody issues in your initial consultation to ensure that you are moving forward in ways that most effectively protect your children.