Divorce is a turbulent time for the entire family and it’s especially turbulent for children. It may be difficult to discuss the divorce openly and honestly, without dragging your children into the middle of a delicate situation.
How you act during and after the divorce can strongly influence how it affects your children. It’s important to be honest with your children, but there are things which you should not say, or do, if you want your kids to make a positive transition after the divorce.
“What does your mother/father say about me?”
Your child is not an informant, and you shouldn’t treat them as such. When you ask your child to provide information about their parent, you’re asking them to betray someone they love. This puts the child in a bad position because they must choose to give you the information, or lie to protect their parent. If there is information you need or want, go to the source and ask your ex-spouse directly; do not use your children as a go-between.
“It doesn’t matter what your mother/father said. You don’t have to do that here.”
All homes are different. When two homes are formed as the result of divorce, there are now two sets of rules to follow. It’s advisable to create as much consistency between the two houses as possible.
When you say you don’t care what your ex-spouse’s house rules are, you create an imbalance in your child’s life. It implies the child doesn’t have to listen to one of their parents. In this instance, you risk using your child as a weapon to undermine your ex-spouse’s authority.
“Sorry I didn’t see you last week. I was busy.”
It is important to create time where the children receive your full attention. When it’s your weekend to be with them and you don’t show up, they feel rejected. You don’t want to send the message there is something more important than them. Your children will remember if you kept your promises. Be present with your children and help them to build, and keep, a positive image of you before, during and after the divorce.
Divorce doesn’t have to be the end of your family. Use it as a way to lead by example and show your children how to act with grace and maturity in the face of adversity.