WHAT’S BEST FOR THE CHILDREN
Children experience all kinds of feelings and fears when parents break up or divorce.
We offer these tips to parents:
Talk with your children together – early and often. It’s best if both parents can be present when children are told the news. Kids need to hear a consistent story about why their parents are not together. Give them concrete information about where each parent will be living, where the children will be staying, and where they will go to school. Make it clear that the break up is not their fault, and try your best to answer their questions honestly.
Develop co-parenting communication skills. Talk about the other parent in positive ways about issues regarding your children, and don’t withhold information from one another. Also, avoid having a child serve as a messenger between you.
Follow the same disciplinary rules in each household. Children will be less confused if the rules are similar. Don’t use less discipline in one house in order to make it “more fun” than the other.
Stay involved in your child’s everyday activities. Children need to see their parents at school functions, sporting events and piano recitals. They also fare better when other family members, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, play an active role in their life.
Don’t overindulge children or try to buy their loyalty. Children need more time and love as they navigate the journey of divorce; they don’t need more toys or extravagant vacations that cause them to favor one parent over the other.
Make every effort to keep scheduled visits with your child. If a parent repeatedly fails to show up as planned, it can make a child feel unimportant and unloved. It’s also hard for a child to have a relationship with someone who repeatedly fails to keep his or her promises.
Find ways to stay within your community. Maintaining contact with friends, neighbors and relatives and keeping your child in the same school can provide much needed stability and support to both children and parents.
Allow your child to be a child. Try not to give your child more responsibility immediately after the split or lean on him or her for emotional support as you would a friend. It’s also important that children not hear too much about the break up through casual phone conversations or dialogues with friends.