Most parents understand that divorce is difficult for the children involved. In fact, some couples stay married for years despite having unhealthy relationships just to protect the kids from growing up in broken homes. Unfortunately, living in households with parents who fight constantly isn’t going to do kids any favors.
If you know that your marriage is about to end, it is natural to worry about how your children will react. After you and your spouse have already discussed splitting up, this could be a good time to discuss child custody.
Before you ever head to court, you have an opportunity to keep custody decisions between the two of you. The best way to do that is to always focus on your children instead of yourselves when it comes to custody matters.
Don’t make your children choose between you
One of the most traumatizing things that can happen for children during a divorce is having to choose with which parent they will live. If the parents can’t agree on custody proceedings, and if they are old enough, the courts may ask the children to weigh in on this decision.
While having a say in where you live can be empowering, it can also cause emotional trauma for kids. After all, they are being asked to choose between their parents. They may experience serious anxiety about damaging the parental relationship with the person they don’t pick. They can also worried about the potential for alienating themselves from both parents if they don’t pick a side.
Your kids should not be involved in your arguments
It is normal to disagree with your ex about the terms of your divorce, from who gets what to when you take vacations. Just because you don’t agree doesn’t mean your children need to get involved.
You and your ex should schedule time to discuss the issues when your children aren’t present. If you need to talk, it should be in private. Ask a family member to watch the kids so that you have time to talk about the issues. Or, agree to meet while the children are in school.
Keep the focus on the kids at all times
You may feel angry, betrayed or hurt about the breakup of your marriage. Your children do not need to know about your emotional experiences. What they need to be reassured of is that both parents still love and support them.
No matter how you may feel, do your best to remain civil with your ex around the children and avoid talking negatively about him or her in front of the kids. If this is difficult, just remind yourself that the children should be the focus of all of your major decisions. Letting their best interest guide you will benefit everyone in the long run.