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Three Ways to Limit the Impact of Separation or Divorce on Your Kids

Aug. 9, 2023

Even in the most amicable of divorces, there is no question that the division of the family has a significant impact on the children.  So, every parent should be looking for ways to lessen that impact. 

1. Absolutely Never Speak Negatively About the Other Parent

Never. Ever. Even if the other parent is talking negatively about you; even if the other parent is truly an abhorrent person, do not discuss this with the child or allow the child to overhear you talking to someone else about the other parent.  It is not fair to put a child in that position, even if the child is older and can better understand what’s going on. If a child tells you that the other parent or his or her family has said something about you, tell your child that these are topics that are not appropriate for him or her and that you are sorry that they had to hear such a thing.  This can be the most difficult thing to do.  It is natural to want to fight back.  But remember, this is about the child, not about you. If the other parent is misbehaving, allow the child to figure this out on his or her own.  Sometimes that takes patience, but it almost always works.  Just keep being a great parent and the children will know not to believe what he or she is being told. 

2.  Try to Work Out a Physical Custody Schedule with Details

Many parents think it is unnecessary to put a physical custody schedule into writing, much less having one with seemingly insignificant details.  The best custody schedules include, but are not limited to, which parent has the children when, what time and at what location(s) the exchanges will take place, who is responsible for transportation and when, what is the holiday schedule (with all of the above-described details), how much vacation each parent can take and how make-up time will be scheduled.  When two parents are getting along and agreeing, the custody schedule does not need to be followed.  But none of us has a crystal ball.  The relationship may not always be wonderful.  To lessen the conflict and impact on the children, it is best to have a detailed Agreement to fall back on.

3.  Try Your Best to Co-Parent

The kids who adjust the best to their parent’s separation generally have parents who are able to cooperatively co-parent.  The relationship between the parents has been shown to impact the mental and emotional well-being of the children.  So, how do you show kids that they are what is most important?  Show them consistency.  Try to have similar house rules, discipline, schedule, and rewards.  And honor the other parent's discipline when the child switches houses.  This shows the child that you are still a team, even though you are living separately.  But also understand that different parenting styles can actually benefit the children.  Co-parents should make all major decisions for the child together.  This can include medical, educational, and financial decisions, among others.  Try to separate your feelings from your behavior and be a healthy example for your children.