It is not uncommon for people to act in what they believe is the best interest of their children, but over- or under-estimate the psychological impact of their actions. Anecdotal evidence, preconceived notions or simple misconceptions can lead to a child’s changing belief system.
It is crucial to consider the needs of the children during and after a divorce – but here are some things that parents need to be aware of.
- Toddlers and preschoolers suffer as much trauma as older children in divorce. People likely believe that the younger the child, the less ability they have to create memories of a divorce. While this might be partially accurate, it is not a universal truth. Even if they can’t put a name to the situation, children as young as two years old can sense an emotional shift in their environment.
- Splitting holidays might add to the chaos. When developing a parenting plan, many parents choose to divide holidays such that, for example, Christmas Eve is spent with one parent while Christmas Day is spent with the other. This can actually add travel stress and pressure on an exchange time/place that doesn’t need to be there.
- Divorced parents should work in concert to ensure rules for the kids are the same at both homes. By communicating and co-parenting, parents can ensure children are raised the same no matter which location. As an illustrative example, punishments should be honored at both houses. If a child has lost the use of his cell phone at mom’s house, he shouldn’t be able to use it at dad’s.
- Parents shouldn’t try to hide the divorce. The weeks and months leading up to a divorce can be an emotionally heated time. It is best to be honest and approach the situation as a unified front. Also, it is important to avoid any sort of microaggression or parental alienation around the children. They can pick up on these cues and it could color their impression of their other parent.
- Kids don’t need to know the truth about a “bad” ex-spouse. This could be considered a caveat of the previous note. There is a limit to how much truth is too much. While it pays to be honest, the children don’t necessarily need to know all of the troubling behind-the-scenes details about why the marriage fell apart. As they grow and mature, they will be better equipped to learn the truth or piece it together themselves.
With the aid and guidance of a skilled family law professional, you can move through the divorce process efficiently and professionally. Do not hesitate to seek representation.