How to Put Children First During Divorce

Avoid the drama. Prevent the trauma. Divorce is not an easy process for anyone involved, especially children. Life will never be the same for your children, no matter how hard you try. Even when you do your best to keep things as “normal” as possible, your little ones are almost always the silent victims of your divorce. So, when divorce is inevitable, how do you put your children’s best interests first?
Putting children first in divorce

Avoid the drama.
prevent the trauma.

Talk to your kids using age-appropriate language

Now, more than ever, your children need your comfort, acknowledgement, encouragement, and support. Be sure they understand they did nothing wrong and they are not responsible for your divorce. Reassure them they will always be loved and wanted by both parents. Be prepared to repeatedly confirm that both of their parents will continue to be their parents, even after divorce.

Try to see divorce through the eyes of your children.

Studies show you and your ex will fair much better after divorce than your children. While you get to move on, your children’s lives are forever changed. The only family they have ever known is breaking apart, out of no fault of their own. Their sense of security and safety is changing. Instead of the stability of being from a “two-parent” family, they will now be “from a broken home” for the rest of their lives. Viewing things from their perspective, will help you bite your tongue and keep you cool during those unavoidable tough moments during your divorce. 

Your children love both of their parents.

Vent to your friends and family, not your children. No one wants to hear their mom or dad talked about negatively. Mind your words and avoid talking hatefully about your ex to your children or in front of them. They absorb more than you may realize. If you and your ex do not get along, your children will struggle to divide their time between parents who cannot put them first. They will be burdened by guilt every time they are forced to choose time with one parent over the other, which is why it is important to treat your ex with respect and get along, to the best of your ability. Successful co-parenting takes effort, but swallowing your pride and letting bygones be bygones (read more about how to divorce amicably) is a small price to pay for ensuring the long-term well-being and stability of your kids.

Let your children continue to be children.

The sheer nature of divorce takes a piece of their innocence away. Do your best to shelter them from the traumatic effects of divorce. Instead of using your children as go-betweens or messengers, use one of many available communication apps or websites for divorced parents to communicate necessary messages with your ex. Do not rely on your children to take on adult roles or responsibilities, such as confidant, counselor, or emotional caretaker for you. While single-parenthood is hard, the childhood of your oldest child should not be collateral damage of your divorce. Do not rely on your oldest child or children to take on the responsibilities of their younger siblings or the household.

Keep your children out of the middle.

Using your children as pawns to hurt your ex will only confuse and hurt them. Take a more cooperative approach by switching weekends to accommodate a change in your ex’s schedule or allowing your child to attend a special event on a non-scheduled day. Allow your children to be excited about upcoming visits and be happy for them when they enjoy their time with your ex. You may no longer want to be married, but your ex will always be your child’s other parent. Coming between your children and their other loving, stable parent may win you the battle while they are young, but you will lose the war when they become adults and blame you for the loss of their other parent.

be patient with your children as they settle into their new normal.

Encourage your child to be honest and open with you about their feelings, no matter what they are. Never punish your child for being honest, even if it means they do not immediately support your new life. While you are excited to be on your new path, they are still trying to cope with and understand what it all means for them. When introducing a new significant other, be prepared to be met with reluctance or outright rejection because it is normal for a child to fear you are trying to replace their other parent with your new love. While you may once again be called by familiar titles such as spouse, wife, husband, daughter/son-in-law, your children will carry a new set of labels: stepchild, stepsibling, or half-sibling. While you may think of yourself as a family, your children are now part of a blended family. They will have to share their holidays and special events in unfamiliar surroundings with extended stepfamily – people and circumstances they didn’t choose, where they may not be accepted as equal members of the family.

It is important to keep these things in perspective and remember that the single most important thing you can do during divorce is to always keep what’s best for your children in the forefront of your mind. The lawyers at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates are here to help you make the best choices for the health and well-being of your family. We take a collaborative approach with all of our clients by ensuring we keep you in the driver’s seat, while offering guidance about how to move forward in the best way possible for you and your children. 

Remember to keep a cool head and try to laugh a little. After all, laughter is always the best medicine – it doesn’t require a doctor’s visit or a prescription and, best of all, it is free. Check out Boudreaux Hunter’s Weekly Top Ten – our best attempt at providing you with a little divorce humor. 

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