It is difficult for children to learn their parents are divorcing. However, this does not mean all children suffer deeply after their parents separate. In fact, in some cases, divorce can lead to happier children and better parenting.
Do children ever benefit from divorce?
In some cases, yes. Some children may actually benefit from their parents divorcing. This is especially true for children who live in high-conflict households or where there is a history of domestic violence.
When children see unhappy and angry parents every day, they often begin to model these behaviors. When one parent leaves the home, the tension decreases and the children are no longer anxious and anticipating their parents’ next fight. This means more stability for the children, and less anger and resentment for the parents.
Often, the relief is not obvious to parents or children in the beginning. A drastic change upends your life, and you will rarely be happy with the immediate results. However, as you all adjust to the new situation and the children grow accustomed to spending time with parents separately, they may express a positive outlook on the change.
Should we stay together for the kids?
It depends. If you and your spouse are miserable, it is not a good idea to stay together for your kids. If both you and your spouse are unhappy together, you cannot give your entire focus to your children.
However, consider this a last resort. According to Parents.com, couples considering divorce should do whatever they can to “work on their issues and challenge themselves to do the work to repair their marriages before choosing divorce…Work at it. When a marriage is healthy and the parents are working together towards the long-term health and happiness of the marriage and the family, it is always better for the kids.”
Look into your relationship and determine whether there is any hope of reconciliation or if the whole family would be happier if you and your spouse divorce.
How can I make the divorce easier on my children?
No matter the situation, divorce will never be easy. The best thing you can do for your children is to cut yourself some slack. You do not have to be a perfect parent or make up for the emotional distress you feel you caused them. In fact, the best thing you can do for your children is to just be there.
Validate the feelings your children express, and offer them age-appropriate answers for any questions they have. Ask them how they are feeling, and if they understand everything that is happening. Listen to their answers, and be empathetic.
Share some of your own feelings in a way that shows them you truly understand and are experiencing some of the same emotions, but be careful to not worry young children or make older children your sounding boards. Keep the focus on them.
Remember to always remind your children that both you and the other parent love them and that the divorce was not their fault. Never speak ill of their other parent in their presence.
How can divorce lead to new and better parenting skills?
The courts try to ensure all parents have the parenting skills they need to raise happy, successful children. The court requires you to take a court-approved class before it will approve a parenting plan. During this class, you learn tactics and strategies to help you communicate with their other parent.
You also learn a number of co-parenting best practices. The bottom line is to always remember that you are the adult. Never let your emotions control your behavior in front of your children. When possible, make a verbal agreement with their other parent to never put your children in the middle of your issues and to protect them from your conflicts and disagreements as much as possible.
As you face many parenting tasks on your own during your residential time, you will also gain new skills and new perspectives. This trial by fire can help you develop better, more well-rounded parenting skills.
Why is co-parenting so important?
Co-parenting after a divorce is one of the best skills you can learn. In fact, building a strong co-parenting relationship with your former spouse can be the key to being better parents after a divorce than you were before.
Effective co-parenting forces you to put your history as a married couple behind you, and look forward to a future as parenting partners. You have to learn to forgive old hurts, or at least forget them when you are dealing with matters concerning your child. You cannot take anything personally, and most people find it helpful to think of their co-parenting partner as a co-worker or business partner.
The key to good co-parenting is establishing and continuing a good communication strategy. Some people find regular text updates work well, but others like to send out weekly email updates. Whatever works for you, communicate regularly. Share what is going on in your child’s life, and any other pertinent information.
Of course, this is often easier said than done. Even if you worry you cannot communicate as well as you would like, you have options to help you co-parent with ease. This is why so many parents rely on email updates or web-based co-parenting tools.
One popular option, Our Family Wizard, allows you to share calendars, send private messages, and share any files you may need. Since the website contains all the information in your shared family account, you can go back and see your previous schedules, messages, and more.
David J. Crouse & Associates, PLLC: Spokane Divorce Lawyers
David J. Crouse & Associates, PLLC help families with divorce and child custody issues in Spokane. We understand the fear and anxiety that often surround these topics, and can help you navigate these complex legal processes. Call us today at 509-624-1380 to learn more.