Divorce involves highly charged emotions that are traumatic for everyone involved.  How you react to and manage your divorce will have lasting effects on your children, and it is up to you to make those effects positive instead of negative.  Putting your children’s needs and feelings first is an important step. Other dos and don’ts to consider include:

  • Decide what form of interaction works best for both and your ex.  The interaction should not be in the form of having the children act as middle-men, passing messages between you.
  • Do not argue about or discuss your situation in front of your children.
  • Take action to stop conflict.  You can control how you act and react.
  • Set routines for dropping off and picking up children, and be consistent. 
  • Find mutually acceptable ways for both parents to be present at events.
  • Come to an agreement about telephone contacts between parent and child.
  • Discuss sharing children’s possessions between two home settings. Duplicate if necessary.
  • Use common courtesy by having children prepared to visit their other parent.
  • Discuss and develop ways to handle a child’s refusal to visit.  Listen to children when they voice concerns.

Remember that your child is not your emotional support.  Be emotionally supportive of them by relieving stress in healthy ways.  Instead of speaking negatively about the other parent, choose to give your child these positive messages:

  • It’s not your fault.
  • It’s not up to you to get us back together.
  • Marriages may end, but families continue.
  • You can’t control the divorce, but you can control how it affects you.
  • It’s normal to feel angry, sad, lonely and numb about what is happening.
  • It’s not your job to help us feel better. When you’re worried, talk to us or ask to speak to a counselor.
  • It’s okay to love both of your parents and not take sides.
  • Some parents have a hard time with divorce. It’s not because you aren’t lovable.
  • Let us know how you feel, and understand it may not change what we do.
  • We both still love you.

Family & Children’s Services offers a variety of classes designed to help families through the divorce transition and minimize the impact on children. Click here for more information.