When dealing with a divorce where children are a concern, it is of utmost importance to keep the proceedings focused on them and their well-being. A collaborative divorce can achieve this goal, in addition to skipping expensive litigation. Here, we have laid out ten behaviors that divorcing parents should display to keep the divorce child focused, so that parents can promote strong, happy, healthy children during this time.
- They do not confuse what is best for the children with what is best for them. Child Focused parents do not push their own agenda when making parenting plan decisions. This is to say, every decision should be focused on the needs of their children, and less so their own. They must not use their children as leverage for their own gain.
- They understand that children need time to adjust to the divorce. These parents take a minute before turning a child’s world upside down. They wait a little while to date and bring dates around the kids, change schools, sell the house, and change sport teams in different areas. Divorce is already a major change in their day to day lives–continuing to throw curve balls at them will only serve to stress them out more.
- They ensure that both parents have time with their children and allow them to love both parents in both homes. This will take time, but the children must be given space to make adjustments to living in two homes. They must also be given their own space and their own rooms in both houses if at all possible to help feel safe and grounded. Both homes must feel like home.
- They got over themselves and work as a team. They sought individual counseling, divorce groups, and friends to help them work through their own feelings about the divorce. However they need to accomplish this, they must have a healthy relationship with the grief of the loss of their marriage and make the transition to being co-parents.
- These parents communicate often, respectfully, and consistently about child focused matters. They inform each other of all important matters regarding their children such as: health, events, school and travel. They do not lie nor do they lie by omission in these matters. All information regarding the children is important, and both parties should be privy to it all.
- They work together to ensure predictability and routine in both homes. Despite having two houses, there should not be wildly different sets of rules across both. Separate sets of guidelines and rules will create unnecessary disparities between both homes that will only lead to more conflict, which is not what a healthy, Child Focused life needs. Consistent rules and schedules and routines will eliminate this conflict outright.
- They consider a post-divorce family is not broken, but instead restructured. They understand that their children have two home–one with each parent.
- They understand that their children might have conflicted feelings about the divorce and changes in their family and allow the children to communicate these concerns. They will address each concern as they come. Doing so will strengthen the child’s sense of security in this new, post-divorce life.
- They preserve the other parent’s reputation with their children, friends, and family. They do not bad mouth the other parent at any time. It is inappropriate to belittle or trash-talk one another, doing so will only create a needlessly hostile environment between all parties: the parents and the children.
- Most importantly, they do not make the child feel like the divorce is their fault. While the children must always be at the forefront of all matters during the divorce, their divorce is their own.
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