Even though things have not worked out with your spouse, if you have children together, it’s important to think through how you will parent them post-divorce. I know as a parent you worry about the damage you’ll do to your children by getting a divorce in the first place, so make sure that you don’t do further damage on top of that.
As you interact with your children, make sure you avoid the following:
- Overindulging your child as a result of feeling guilty about your divorce
- Using your child as a pawn to “get back” at your ex
- Sabotaging your child’s relationship with the other parent — avoid negativism about the other parent if at all possible
- Using your child to gain information on your ex
- Forcing your child to choose a side in conflict
- Depending on your child for your emotional needs — make sure they do not feel responsible for your emotional well-being. You are still the adult and it is YOUR responsibility to take care of THEM.
Develop some adult friendships so that you have a safe person to turn to if you need emotional support. Commit to avoiding the mistakes listed above, and work on developing a healthy co-parenting style with your ex for the sake of your growing children. Some ways to develop that strategy is:
- Agree with your ex that you will never speak negatively of them in front of the children.
- Negotiate ahead of time how you will handle interactions in front of them — when you trade off the children for shared custody or visitation, holidays, etc.
- Make sure to communicate with your ex about aspects of your child’s development, and anything that is going on with you so that your child is not the primary source of information between the two of you.
It is important for your children to understand that even though their parents are no longer married, you are both still responsible for their upbringing and care very much for them. Children need to feel safe, loved, and boundaries. If you can put aside your differences for the sake of your children, it will go a long way in assuring them a healthier, happy childhood.