Every parent simply wants what is best for his or her children. Co-parenting during a healthy and successful relationship is difficult and often even the happiest couples will have disagreements on how to handle parenting issues. When a couple is divorcing, those parenting issues can become infinitely more complicated, as now you are trying to navigate a complicated legal proceeding as well as continuing to be the best parent possible to your children. It is essential that you make sure your approach to your divorce is done in such a way to minimize the adverse impact on your children.
First, make sure your children understand that they are deeply loved and that that will not change, regardless of the outcome of your divorce. A divorce is a chaotic time, and children thrive on stability. Reinforcing to your children that your love and that of your soon-to-be-former spouse is constant and stable will help them have a touchstone in the center of an unstable process.
Second is to do your best to encourage your child in his or her relationship with the other parent. Allowing your children to see your anger and resentment can be detrimental to their mental well-being. You do not have to sing your former spouse’s praises all the time, but rather encourage your child to have a good time during visitation and be supportive of his or her excitement to spend time with the other parent.
Next is to be supportive of the other parent. This means not trying to undermine his or her parenting decisions or doing your best to “one up” the other parent. As when you were married, it is important to present a united front. Telling your child that the other parent’s decisions “don’t really count” or otherwise sending a message undercutting his or her authority can really hurt your child in the long run. Similarly, always trying to be the “fun parent” by never enforcing rules or setting boundaries also sets your child up for failure in the long run.
Finally, keep the conflict in front of your child to an absolute minimum. While you may have to have difficult and sometimes heated conversations with your former spouse, these conversations should always be held away from the children. While carrying out the suggestions above will require significant discipline on your part, keep in mind you are doing it for your children. It is often said that you have to love your child more than you hate your former spouse. Keep this in mind when the going gets tough.
If you have questions about your divorce or custody proceeding and how it will impact your children, contact us today at (732) 529-6937. We will talk to you about your custody order and your child.