Divorce can be unpleasant for everyone involved. But some studies show the effects of divorce on children can be short-lived if the parents follow a few simple rules.
Rule #1: When possible, both parents should tell children about the divorce, not relatives or friends. Having both parents involved lessens the need to assign blame or point out failure or disappointment. You should assure your children the divorce is not their fault and they will still have two loving parents when it’s all over. This kind of cooperation between divorcing parents may be difficult, but it comes at a crucial time.
Rule #2: Conflict is a common part of divorce, but you should do everything possible to settle issues involving children outside the courtroom. Take advantage of advice from attorneys, mediators and mental health professionals to decide where the children will live, where they will go to school and how often they will travel between the parents’ homes. Even if you wind up in court fighting over assets, agreeing on a co-parenting plan will reduce tension.
Rule #3: An important part of taking care of children after divorce is to ensure that each of you has enough assets to maintain a household. Studies indicate that men often emerge from divorce in better financial shape than women. The parties should not allow their anger with a soon-to-be former spouse to cause their children to suffer. Remember, you are not divorcing your children.
Rule #4: Divorce should always be about the future. Your life and your children’s lives will change over time. As they grow older, the concerns you had when they were young will become less pronounced. Toys and daycare will give way to questions about transportation and who will pay for college. Friends become more important as time spent with one parent or the other is greatly reduced. Focusing on the future, rather than the difficulties of divorce, will make things better for your entire family.
Following these simple rules allows any divorce with children to go more smoothly. Reducing anger, anxiety and disappointment helps your children better cope with changes in their lives. If you keep concerns about them front and center, you can help them emerge from divorce emotionally and financially intact.