Here’s a list of my Top Ten Tips to help you be the best parent possible during your divorce and after it’s all said and done. Many parents worry that their children will be forever screwed up because they are divorcing. Well, to be honest with you, I have seen this happen, and it is typically when the parents behave badly towards each other and say bad things about each other, all in front of the children.
Children will and do adjust to your divorce if you are tuned into their needs and are aware of your own actions. It’s all about mindfulness. Many parents are in such emotional turmoil themselves, they just aren’t aware of how their actions impact their children. These tips will open your eyes and raise your awareness about this and help you keep your focus on the needs of your children during this difficult time:
- Remember that parents do not “visit” with their children. Children and parents live together, no matter how short or long a time they spend together. The language each of you use around the schedule can sometimes be problematic. Be sensitive to this.
- Save negotiations and discussions with the other parent for a time when the children are not around and cannot overhear.
- Learn how to communicate directly and respectfully with the other parent. Do not ask the children to carry messages to the other parent. They should not be in the middle of any of your disputes or be responsible for your communication.
- Enjoy the time you have with your children. You can only do this well if you aren’t obsessing about the time you don’t have them with you!
- Allow and encourage your children to have fun and enjoy being with the other parent. Remember that it’s important for your child’s normal emotional and psychological development to have a good relationship with both parents, regardless of where they live.
- Say nice things about the other parent in front of the child. Making derogatory or disparaging remarks about the other parent is hurtful to the child and will often backfire on you. Allow them to decide for themselves what kind of relationship they will have with each of you.
- Assure your children that you and their other parent are taking care of them and will work out the details of their schedule. Never ask them where they want to live or whom they like better.
- Always speak to the other parent in a civil, respectful way. If the conversation gets to the point where you are unable to do this, then end the conversation and take it up another time when things have calmed down.
- Be flexible with schedule changes. Remember, your children benefit from seeing the two of you being cooperative, especially when it comes to taking care of their needs.
- Always keep your promises to your children. This sends a powerful message to them that they can trust you and have confidence that you are there for them.
Take these tips to heart. Be mindful of them every day when dealing with your children and your former spouse. It won’t always be easy, but I promise you, it will be worth it in the end. Your children will grow up to be healthy, balanced adults.