A recent study confirms what many have suspected: Poor behavior by divorcing parents causes more problems for their children than the divorce itself. Research shows that all children experience some negative effects as their parents separate or divorce but, if a split is particularly traumatic or vicious, the children may suffer the ill effects into adulthood and some never quite recover.
If you are facing a separation or divorce from your spouse or domestic partner, the two of you have the power to make this difficult process less traumatic for your children. In fact, a study funded by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health found that parents, even those who no longer live with the children, have a lot of control over how their children adjust to the family dissolution.
Most children are resilient, especially if given the emotional tools to cope with their feelings and emotions. When the two most important people in their lives no longer want to be together, it is of utmost importance that the parents try to minimize the impact on their children.
Guidelines for Divorcing Parents
For the sake of your children, try to divorce with dignity.
- Do not talk badly about the other parent in front of your child
- Do not make the children chose one parent over the other — kids do better when they are allowed to love both equally
- Both parents must clearly explain to their child that, although the parents no longer love each other, they both still love the child
- Do not fight in front of the children — schedule times out of their hearing to discuss difficult issues (or all issues if you cannot keep from arguing)
- Reiterate to the children that the break-up is neither their fault nor their responsibility
- Do not use the children as messengers between the two of you
- Your children rely on you for their emotional needs, so listen to them but do not burden them with your financial, legal or child custody battles
- Create as much continuity and routine as possible for the children
If you are considering a divorce or dissolution of a domestic partnership, consult with a lawyer knowledgeable with family law matters. Minimize the effects on your children and yourself by letting a professional handle the details of your divorce or separation for you.