I’m often asked what a parent should be doing concerning their children in the initial stages of a divorce or the end of a relationship. Here is a list of my recommendations:
- Stability is key at this point in your child’s life. Whether its maintaining a schedule, staying in the same school district, your child needs their life outside of their home to remain as close to normal as possible.
- Wait a significant amount of time to introduce your child to a dating partner. Your relationship may have been over for years, but your child will not move on as quickly as you. You are an adult, be discrete.
- Never disparage your former spouse in front of your children. Your child knows that they are “part mom” and “part dad”, the criticism can batter the child’s self-esteem and often creates issues later in life.
- Do not use your children as messengers. The less the children feel a part of the battle between their parents, the better.
- Reassure your children that they are loved. They may assume its their fault that you are hostile to their other parent.
- Encourage your children to see their other parent.
- Child custody is not about you. At every step during your divorce, remind yourself that your children’s interests are what matter.
- Use your friends, family, and counselors as social support. Don’t discuss your feelings with your children regarding the other parent or the visitation schedule.
- Do not discuss child support with your children. It feeds into the child’s sense of guilt or abandonment.