If you’re a parent who’s separated from your spouse and contemplating divorce or preparing to begin the process, you’re no doubt concerned about its impact on your children. If your children already know about the divorce, you’re likely already aware of their feelings, which may include anger, sadness, fear, resentment and more. You may fear that it will only get worse.
However, if you and your spouse are able to work together as co-parents, you can keep the kids in the loop on the changes that you’ll all be experiencing as your family reconfigures. This can actually strengthen your family. That may sound counterintuitive, but here’s why it’s not.
Communication is key
First, start with communication. The kids don’t need to know (and probably shouldn’t know) the details of why you’re breaking up, nor all of the legal details you’re working out. It is best, however, to let them know what the custody arrangements will be. If you can, tell them about your parenting plan together – at least the scheduling aspects and the expectations for each of you as parents and for them.
Let your kids feel involved in making the parenting plan work
It’s best when you can set similar rules and expectations for them in both houses. Tell them you need their help in making this plan work. All of this will help your kids feel more secure and less anxious about their future. They’ll also feel like they haven’t been forgotten as the two of you hash out your differences.
Let your kids know that if they don’t believe something is working, they can tell you. That doesn’t mean you’ll change it. However, it will strengthen their sense of being part of this new family configuration and likely less fearful about it.
Don’t expect this to change your kids’ attitudes about the divorce overnight. Children can take months and even longer to adjust to divorce. Keep checking in with them and let them know you’re there to talk when they need or want to.
If you and your spouse can negotiate your divorce agreements relatively smoothly and efficiently, you’re less likely to become embroiled in conflicts that can make this kind of cooperation difficult, if not impossible. Your family law attorney can help you.