Q: I am extremely concerned about the impact our divorce will have on our children. Are there any insights you can share on this matter?
A: This is a very good question and shows that you have your priorities right and aren’t just thinking of yourself. It’s sad when parents fail to consider their children’s needs and treat them as an afterthought.
When children are involved, how you interact with one another as parents during and after the divorce is very important. You need to understand that your relationship with your spouse doesn’t end when he or she becomes your ex.
Please note that it’s insensitive and unproductive to let a personal vendetta determine the relationship your children have with their other parent and the extended family on both sides. Whatever your conflicts have been, don’t involve the children in your differences or your battles. Keep it between you and your ex.
You’ll also need to manage expectations, both yours and your child’s. Things are going to be different now, so you should not make promises you can’t keep.
There are practical things you can do that will make it easier.Developing good communication systems is important based on your preferred methods of communication. You should also agree to respond to email, text or phone messages within 24 hours, even if only to acknowledge that an important message has been received.
Scheduling, finances, medical issues all need to be communicated. Some people have found online tools that are helpful for documenting important information pertaining to doctor visits, meds, school functions and the like. For those less tech-savvy, a spiral notebook that is transferred back and forth can be used to communicate this kind of information. It can be personalized with photos that you can share like “Lisa’s first day of school.”
Finally, don’t sweat the small stuff. Children are more resilient than you think. Do the best you can and you’ll be a hero.
July is National Child Centered Divorce Month. If you’re considering divorce, have begun the process or are already divorced, you should know two things. First, divorce will affect your children no matter what. Second, the way you and your spouse or ex handle it will amplify or minimize the impact your decision has on the future health of your kids.
For more information, see my blog post about how to talk to your children about your divorce.