Divorce has an unpleasant way of creating conflict in more areas than one can count. As spouses begin the overwhelming battle of what belongs to whom, who gets the kids, who gets to live in the house until it’s sold, and a thousand other things of that nature…it can be easy to get caught up in one’s own emotions and forget how the divorce affects the children’s emotions. Children of divorce are in an emotionally vulnerable position as they experience the separation of mom and dad, and parents should be sensitive to their children’s emotional well-being. The following considerations should be made by any parents going through a divorce in order to provide stability for their children.
Do not communicate with each other through the children. Many times situations will arise in which a parent will want to alter the terms of the visitation agreement (i.e. the child wants to skip a weekend with dad for a party, school event, etc.). In such cases, parents should communicate directly with each other (or their lawyers) in order to make such arrangements. Communicating through the child subjects the child to an unnecessary burden and may place a significant amount of stress on him/her.
Do not speak negatively about the other parent in front of the children. You may have divorced your spouse for a very good reason, and you may have every right to feel negatively towards him/her. However, this does not mean your child should foster these same negative feelings towards the other parent. Children should be given the opportunity to have a healthy relationship with both parents, if possible.
Do not encourage secret-keeping from the other parent. Parents should never encourage their child to tell a lie, especially to his/her parent. When you are late dropping of the child after your visitation period because you had a friend come to the house and you simply lost track of time, do not tell the child to lie about it to the other parent. The indirect consequences of encouraging such behavior will result in behavioral issues as the child grows older, and your credibility will eventually be devalued in the eyes of your child.
Try to enforce the same rules in both houses. For a child who is going back and forth between parents every week, it can be confusing to know which set of rules he/she must abide by. As a result, the child is placed in a difficult situation, wondering which parent to obey. This is difficult for any child who wishes to please both parents. To prevent confusion, parents should do their best to work with each other to enforce the same rules in both houses other while at the same time recognizing that they cannot discipline the child while he/she is at the other parent’s house. Maintaining this sense of continuity throughout parenting will provide children with a sense of stability and support, which will cultivate their emotional development as they grow older.
For more information on divorce and child custody proceedings, feel free to contact The Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.