10/23/08

Divorce ' Your Children Come First

. 10/23/08

There simply isn't a way to embrace the idea that divorce is just great fun because it isn't. It's a horribly painful experience to go through. No one in their right mind would want to go through this experience and would do all in our power to avoid it. We all want our marriages to work.

And yet, divorce continues to happen. We're decimated by it and we're adults! Consider this: with all the years we've been alive, with all our schooling, and with all of the experiences that have taught us, we are still decimated by divorce. Can you imagine what very little education, very little experience, very little living does for our children when they have to go through a divorce with us?

Divorce is horrible for children. We are our children's caretakers. Their needs must come first. It's awfully nice if there is both a mom and a dad to care for the children. But when a divorce makes that impossible, their needs must still come first and the parents must make their welfare a priority.

All kids need both parents and they need to rely on them with full trust. Squabbling between parents is just too difficult for a growing-up child to endure and it wounds them emotionally. Please consider not fighting with their mommy or daddy in front of them. Please consider not badmouthing their other parent in front of them. Please be there for them 24/7. If your ex has a tendency not to be there, write him a note and explain how you see this affecting his children and could he please plan to be there for them?

Together with your ex, write a Parenting Plan that you can both agree upon. Your attorneys can devise a plan for you, if you are not capable of doing this with your ex yourself. Both of you should have input into creating it and tweaking it until it suits both of you. The internet contains many ideas to be incorporated into a Parenting Plan. Discuss the feasibility of sharing your Parenting Plan with your children's caregivers or babysitters.

When you first decide that you have to get a divorce, craft a way to telling your children without placing blame on either you or your soon-to-be ex. This kind of news is not easily absorbed by your children because they don't handle change well if they are quite young. And this change is life altering. Give them time to absorb it. Revisit the discussion and try to help them to understand how necessary it is, even if you aren't happy about it yourself. Work toward a way you can all live with the fact that a divorce is going to happen, like it or not.

Once the divorce is underway, give your children an explanation of the court agreement. They won't appreciate the legality of it, but they want to know how it's going to affect them. Make a list of those things and let them ask lots of questions. When you answer them, work hard not to place any sense of blame on their other parent.

Don't force your children to take sides. They deserve to have a mommy and a daddy if that is at all possible. They are entitled to continue to enjoy a relationship with their other parent, even if you can't. Try to keep their needs at the top of your list.

Most kids have fears that somehow they caused the divorce, that they're going to be abandoned too, or that something painful will happen to them as well. Listen to their questions and fears with empathy, and keep asking them questions until you are sure they're okay with the discussion. They'll be losing a key member of their family from the home. They may have another family to integrate into their lives. There's a lot of trauma involved in this for kids and they deserve to have their fears addressed.

At this link http://www.divorcesource.com/info/checklists/childbehavior.shtml You'll discover a great tool to determine just how your child is handling your divorce. It can help you help them through their sadness and sense of loss.

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