Kids thrive in a loving home where the family as a whole shares and enjoys the fruits of nurturing, warm, and supportive relationships. However, when there are martial problems, the tension in the marriage inevitably seeps into the fabric of the family and kids can be affected in deeply emotional ways. (Read more about how a tense marriage affects kids.)
Some couples choose to stay in a high-conflict marriage for the sake of their kids. The intention to protect is highly commendable—which is what parents instinctively do. But to properly protect our kids couples need to do more than to just stay in their marriage. They need to work on their marriage so as to bring love, peace and harmony back to the family home. Read more about what couples therapy can accomplish.
While many modern marriages do end in divorce, what parents can do is to minimize the effects on children. Here are the Do’s and Don’ts.
- ask your child to take sides
- criticize or blame your spouse in front of your child
- alienate your child from the other parent
Do reiterate OVER AND OVER AGAIN to your child that
- mum and dad will always love you
- mum and dad will always be your mum and dad
- your needs will be looked after
- you will be safe
Do make an effort to
- see your child regularly and consistently
- stay in touch via facetime, phone, text messages throughout the week
- attend important activities such as parent-teacher meetings, performances, sports games, etc
Children tend to blame themselves when there are problems. So it is very important for parents to communicate that it’s not the child’s fault. Divorce is a decision made by adults and children are not responsible for causing it or fixing it.
If you decide to divorce, the end of your marriage also means the beginning of your co-parenting. A child needs two parents, and that means you and your ex-spouse will remain co-parents for the rest of your lives. That has wider implications when it comes to vacations, decisions about schools, relationships with in-laws, as well as other shared responsibilities, family activities, and social ties.
If you decide to divorce, talk to a professional about how to child-proof your separation.
Read more on how to prepare yourself to tell your child about your divorce.
The Impact of Divorce on Young Children and Adolescents
Practical tips on how to co-parent with an ex