You love your children like crazy. But, unfortunately, you’ve fallen out of love with your spouse. You’ve grown apart and the only thing currently keeping you together is your kids. Is staying married for them actually beneficial in the long run? Research says 80% of children of divorce end up adapting well, without seeing a lasting effect on their mental health or grades. This process is never easy. But we do have some rules of thumb; some simple do’s and don’ts that will help you keep your kids happy during this trying time.
You know better than anyone that your children repeat absolutely everything. If you have a negative opinion of your former spouse, it should absolutely never be communicated to your children. Their relationship with their parent is their own and should not be influenced by either partner. Speaking ill of your former spouse in the presence of your children will instigate unnecessary drama, confuse your children and encourage immature behavior.
If you do find yourself with ill-will toward your former spouse, speak to them directly. Never use your children as middlemen, directly or indirectly. Studies show that children thrive from stability and that high conflict between parents can result in an extremely harmful situation for your children.
If you and your ex can’t agree on a streamlined parenting style, now may seem like the perfect time to start doing things 100% your way. While you are not wrong, do consider that your children are enduring a massive transition period. Gradual shifts in your parenting style will be better accepted than large, sweeping changes.
In the same vein, it may seem like a great time to become “the fun parent.” Was the kids’ bedtime 8pm when you were with your ex? Resist the urge to win their affection or ease your guilt by letting them disregard rules. You will thank your ex for doing the same when the children are there.
This time is difficult for everyone involved. It will be a struggle for your children, your ex, the grandparents, and yourself. As with any transition, just allow everyone a little bit of cushion. Accidents and mistakes will happen, arguments will erupt, and meltdowns might occur. Don’t let these deter you from your co-parenting plan. With consistency, each day will be better than the last, so try to stay on an even keel.
Offering leniency is a great way to facilitate a successful transition. Have your children ready for visitation times, allow them to call their other parent or grandparent whenever they desire, and stay empathetic. They are going through this divorce just as much as you are.
Involve your ex in your children’s daily lives and extracurricular activities. Avoid petty thoughts of only allowing your children to see the other side of their family during certain visitation. This will only end up hurting and confusing your children. It’s extremely important that your children see and understand that, although you are no longer together, you both still love them.
Tell your children that none of this is their fault. It’s likely that they’ll default to this mindset and want to blame themselves. It’s up to you and your ex to nullify these thoughts by way of affection and reassurance. Your expression of unconditional love will never be too much and can truly make a difference in the emotional nurturing of your child.
Remember: how you feel about your ex is not nearly as important as how you feel about your children. Always keep them at top of mind to allow for a healthy transition. When it comes to divorces and family law in Ohio, we’ve seen and been through it all. Call the attorneys that truly care about you and your family. Babbitt & Dahlberg is available for a consult today.