When a parent is considering divorce, their most common concern is how it will affect their children. The truth is divorce will affect your children, but you have some say over how. If you and your spouse consistently put your children’s needs first during and after the divorce, you can help limit any negative effects.
First, don’t let your stress overwhelm you
Divorce can be very stressful, making it easy for people to miss their children’s need for extra care and attention. Check in with them. Provide lots of emotional support, empathy, and validation. Remain as involved as you can in their daily lives. Consider getting your kids (and yourself) professional help so they’ll have a safe place to explore their emotions. Don’t forget about self-care.
The three commitments
A child-centered divorce means you and your divorcing spouse will need to find a way to work together for your children’s best interests – now and in the future.
Making the following three commitments with your children’s other parent can go a long way to creating a child-centered divorce:
1. Commit to open and honest communication. Agree that you will work together honestly to make all major decisions about the children together. Consider scheduling a regular time to discuss things like observations about your children’s needs and behavior, upcoming events or vacations, or decisions you must make. This will help your kids see that you are still parenting together.
2. Commit to setting consistent rules for each household. Your rules, routines, and expectations must be relatively consistent. Not only does this remind your children that you are parenting together, but it can prevent your kids from trying to play each of you against the other.
3. Commit to always putting your children first. This means you may need to compromise when you have disagreements. You may have to put your own plans on hold because it’s better for your children.
Some details can go in your custody agreement
As you move forward, your custody agreement (or order) will be an important guide and tool for resolving disputes. It should cover things like where the children will live and discuss most of the potential areas of dispute. A good one will have arrangements for resolving disputes you didn’t foresee. Even so, it is sometimes necessary to modify a custody agreement later.
If you’re ready to take these steps for a child-centered divorce, seek a compassionate attorney to help guide you and help you craft a custody agreement focused on your children’s best interests.
Don’t go through this alone – lean on professionals who will keep your kids at the heart of it all.