Children are often the unfortunate victims of a divorce. Usually they don’t want their parents’ relationship to end, but no one has asked them about it. They are worried about what is going to happen to them. Will I have to move? What if Mom or Dad has a new boyfriend or girlfriend? What if they don’t like me? Can I somehow get my Mom and Dad to change their minds? Did I do something to make them get a divorce?
These are all valid concerns and issues that need to be dealt with. Children have to be reassured that although Mom and Dad have decided they no longer want to live together, they still love their children and want the best for them. Kids going through divorce need to hear that everyone doesn’t have to be sad forever, that things will get better.
Parents Should Avoid Doing This When Divorcing
The following list suggests 10 things parents should avoid doing to their child or children when they are divorcing:
1. Don’t try to be secretive about what is happening, but guard against providing too much information.
Keeping age level in mind, be as honest with your children as you possibly can. You don’t want the children to hear important news such as, “Daddy is moving to Wyoming” from someone else. They may not understand why you didn’t tell them (unless you weren’t aware of it). Open communication may help the children feel they can ask questions about what is happening which can lessen their anxiety about what they are experiencing. At the same time a child does not need to know how much his mother or father is receiving in child support.
2. Don’t put your children in the middle of a situation.
You shouldn’t question your child about the activities of the other spouse as a way of gaining ammunition against your “ex” or just because you’re prying. Ask your “ex” directly if you really want to know something. Maybe the child was asked not to share the information. Either way it puts your child in the middle and may make them feel they should lie to the other parent. Your children are not negotiating tools or bargaining chips that you can use to cause harm to your spouse. You should strive not to put them between you and the person you are divorcing. It is usually not hard to tell when a parent may be trying to manipulate things. If you recognize yourself as this person, it’s time to change your tactics.
3. Don’t speak negatively about your spouse.
This is a very difficult rule to follow as many divorcing people are hurt, bitter and angry and want to make sure their soon-to-be former spouse knows they feel this way. It is important not to threaten or antagonize the other parent and not to talk about your issues on social media as this information can be used against you.
For example, in a custody battle, you could be found to be unstable, or not to be encouraging love and affection between your children and their other parent. Don’t give your spouse ammunition to use against you. Take the high road and be courteous and civil even if you are treated disrespectfully. Again, the age of the child is important. If your child asks why Daddy is so mean, for example, you should be able to tell the truth to older children in the most positive manner possible. A response such as, ‘Daddy is not very happy right now. I’m not sure why he is mean. I hope he will feel better soon’ is better than telling them their father is a loser and there’s no hope for him.
4. Don’t vent to your children about the issues of the divorce.
There is a way of sharing limited information without dumping your problems on the kids. Venting to them places them in the position of serving as your emotional support. They are not equipped to handle the strain this could bring about. It may also make them feel insecure or less secure than they were already feeling about the future of their family. It would be better for you to vent to a trusted friend or a professional counselor.
5. Don’t forget to spend quality time with your child.
Children need love and attention no matter what is happening with their parents. They should not be pushed aside because someone is having issues in their marriage or may be trying to start a new life with someone else. This is a good time to do something special with the kids. It may be hard to find the extra money, but there are some inexpensive trips that can be arranged or a small party can be planned.
Don’t become so consumed with what is happening to you that you have no time to spend with your children. They really need you now.
6. Don’t violate custody or visitation agreements or try to stop the other parent from seeing their children.
Unless there has been abuse that you are able to prove, there is no reason not to allow the other parents to maintain a relationship with his or her children. These orders also come from the court and both parties must obey them. If you disagree with an order, this is not a good reason not to follow it. Document what you think is unfair and discuss it with your attorney.
7. Don’t use child support as a weapon.
Here again, you are likely violating an order of the court and this could get you into trouble. You could be charged with contempt. You cannot withhold child support because you are angry about something that has happened in the divorce process or you don’t like how the other parent is acting. You will have to pay delinquent support and, in the meantime, your children will not receive the money to which they are entitled.
8. Do not ignore physical and verbal signs from your children.
These signs may give you clues as to how the child is handling the divorce and alert you if you need to seek medical help. Be aware of subtle messages like a child who always has a stomach ache or can’t sleep. The last thing you want to do is allow your quest for a new life or your effort to escape an unhappy marriage to permanently damage your child.
If it appears your child may need professional help, don’t hesitate to get them the help they need.
9. Don’t make promises to children that you can’t keep.
It is great for your children to be excited about a future event you’re going to share together, but don’t tell your children you are going to go to Disneyland if you really can’t afford to go there or couldn’t get off work to make the trip. In the end, they will not trust what you tell them. The same goes for making statements about the family. For example, don’t promise the children that their mother will be coming back to live with the family when you know this is probably not the case. They will be filled with false hope and may not be able to deal with the divorce as well as they could have if you had not made such claims.
10. Don’t radically change the family dynamics. Children are innocent parties to the divorce process.
Be respectful of your children. It is likely this is an unwanted change and that it is difficult time for them. It is important to keep relations between both parents and children loving, warm and positive.
Keep everything as normal as possible. Children need a sense of stability. If your child was taking swimming lessons and playing on the baseball team before the divorce, make an effort to keep those activities going. If you have guests overnight, don’t make the child feel like a stranger in their own home. If they do not accept a parent’s new significant other, don’t push. Some parents choose not to get involved with someone else until the divorce is final.
Divorce Cases in NE Ohio Court Systems
Divorce is a challenge. Often you must remember to take things as they come, day by day. An experienced attorney who has handled many cases in the domestic relations court system where you live can be of great help to you and look out for your best interests.
Our attorneys have many years of experience working with Ohio domestic relations laws and have handled many cases in the domestic relations court systems throughout northeast Ohio.
Contact us to discuss the details of your divorce and see how we can help you by calling 1-888-774-9265, chat with one of our 24-hour live chat representatives or send us a website message.