Easing Your Children Through the Stress of Divorce
You only get one chance with children. There are no redo's. So what you say, do and how you act during your divorce both in front of your children and to your spouse is vitally important to your children's future.
How so, you may ask? All of our lecturing to our children, if contrary to our actions, has little effect on them later in life.
Lead by Example Not Lecture
By now as a parent you have learned that what you do in front of your children, your behavior, is far more important that what you say to them. If you are an angry or overly critical parent, then your children will develop to become angry and overly critical of others. Likewise, if you are calm in front of your children, uncritical and supportive to others, then odds your children will grow into being calm, uncritical and supportive as adults.
So lead by example not lecture, here's how. Divorce is a crucial when children learn life lessons on such important matters as:
- How to have a relationship with another adult.
- How to resolve conflict with another person without name calling and destructive argument.
- How to relate to a future husband or wife.
- How to relate to and raise children.
- What is it like grow up in a family where there is no yelling, name calling, daily arguments or high emotion. It is important to do whatever it takes to protect your children from the conflict of divorce.
Put aside your anger, frustration and disappointment with your spouse to make room for cooperation. Focus on a brighter future. There is life after divorce.
Keep the Children Reassured about Their Future
Children almost always want to know how the divorce will affect them. How will it change their life. So address that issue as soon as possible. Reassure your children that their lives will go on and that they will see the other parent frequently. Don't however talk about each detail of the divorce process. Courts and judges don't solve a family's problems, but you can.
So back to basics:
- Don't argue in front of your children. An attack or even a defense by a parent is perceived by a child as an attack on them.
- Don't make the children a part of the divorce. They are not your buddies, there to discuss your marital problems. Go talk to your Illinois lawyer or a counselor but never use the children as therapists or to determine if you are being treated fairly by your spouse. The job of a child is to be a child and not be forced to be your parent or someone you confide in.
- Don't make the children choose sides. Assure them no side needs to be chosen.
- Don't display anger you feel about your spouse in front of your children. This only makes them feel insecure.
- The time you and your spouse have the children with you is their time not yours. You want them to feel happy about life, their friends and their future.
- Transition times when children are picked up or dropped off are critical times when emotions run high. Make them peaceful. Don't argue or even discuss stressful things with your spouse during these times. Even a thoughtful parent who is trying not to disturb a child but is so upset by the appearance of a spouse for visitation may transfer that feeling to a child. A child should not sense a feeling of stress at visitation pick up or drop off. Visitation exchanges are hard enough on children. So if necessary don't be present at pick up or drop off. If you must be there, decline any discussion with your spouse which may lead to an argument.
- Don't miss a visitation with your child. The visitation time is for your child. Nothing is more disappointing for a child than having a parent cancel a visitation especially at the last minute.
- Leave your children at the pick up or drop off and make a point to be pleasant to your spouse. It is always better for your child to see you with a smile on your face.
The good example you show your children even through your divorce will teach them far more than you know. They will thank your for it. Contact a quality Hinsdale divorce and child custody lawyer for more information on your family law needs.