With the exception of experiencing trauma firsthand or losing a member of their immediate family, divorce may be the most traumatic thing that your children experience in their young lives. Concerns about the traumatic implications of divorce can lead people to remain in unhealthy and unhappy marriages for far longer than they should.

While it is admirable to want to prevent any emotional damage that divorce could cause your children, you also need to consider the fact that witnessing you in an unhappy relationship could affect their mental health and future relationships as well.

Setting a positive example bye protecting yourself but then also working cooperatively with the other parent as you share custody of your children can show your kids that they can take care of themselves while also respecting other people, even in times of extreme emotional turmoil.

Get on the same page regarding shared custody

Unless your ex has a documented history of abuse, addiction, neglect or severe mental instability, it is highly unlikely that the courts will agree with a request for sole custody by one parent. Shared custody is typically best for the children, which means that regardless of how hard the parents fight with one another, that will be the most probable outcome.

Instead of digging in your heels and denying the reality of the situation, everyone in your family will benefit from the graceful acceptance of shared custody by both spouses/parents. Talk to your ex and acknowledge that you will need to co-parent. The two of you need to work out an agreement where you can put the needs of your children first during and after the divorce. 

The emotional needs of your children should always come before your own

It may be stressful or downright unpleasant that you need to interact with your ex at social events such as birthday parties, holidays or sporting competitions. Particularly if one or both of you have started a new romantic relationship, there may be tension and resentment. As hard as it may be, those emotions are yours to deal with and should not impact your child’s happiness and sense of parental support.

Instead of watching you alternating attendance at the soccer game, your child would likely prefer to have both parents cheering for them at every game. The same is probably true for birthday parties and holiday celebrations. Instead of splitting up each and every special moments in the lives of your children so that you and your ex don’t need to see one another, your children may benefit dramatically from you taking a more mature approach.

Acknowledge that you will both continue to be present in the lives of the kids for as long as you’re alive. Working together can make the children feel more secure in their relationships with you after the divorce and also help inspire them to behave more responsibly in their own interpersonal relationships as they grow older.