Divorce isn't easy for anyone. And it can be particularly challenging for children who are involved. It is imperative to keep things amicable between parents so children don't get caught in the crossfire. Here are some tips to help parents keep things civil between them when it comes to co-parenting their children.
- Keep up conversations about the needs and wants of your child and refrain from rehashing old issues. You will forever be attached to each other through these children you had together so it is important to make interactions with each other going forward be about the children. Present a united front so your children understand you are still a team in how you will care for them.
- Refrain from referring to your former spouse as the “ex,” consider referring to him as "dad" to your kids and by his name to others. When we do this we are referring to the other parent in terms of our own relationship to that person, not the child's. We need to speak about the other parent in terms of the child's relationship to them i.e. Your mom will be here to pick you up. Did you your remember to bring your jacket from Dad's house. It communicates that the child's relationship with the other parent in still intact. It is not the child's EX-father or EX-mother.
- Avoid criticizing your ex in front of your children. “Let the child make up his own judgments in time without having to feel pressured to choose sides. It is impossible for children to have competing attachments. So when the child is with dad, he/she is loyal to dad. Talking badly about the other parent puts the child in a position of having to choose sides and that is too emotionally overwhelming for any kid.
- Come up with shared rules and expectations for both households...children thrive on structure and predictability; this way will lessen the risk that a child will play one parent against the other. Having different rules and consequences for misbehavior causes too much conflict and a child who does not have consistency in a secure base is at far greater risk for depression and anxiety than a child who can depend on their parent's continuity of care.
- Don't use your kids as messengers. When we do this we involve our children in conversations and issues that are really none of their business. Children of divorced parents want to keep the peace and take it upon themselves to make sure everyone is getting along. Putting them in the position of messenger gives a child the responsibility of managing how the other parent will react to that message. That is too much for any child to bear.
By: Dyan Eybergen