If you’ve been through a divorce or, are thinking about divorce one of your main concerns will be how your divorce will impact your children. Study after study relates the ways in which divorce negatively impacts children. It’s no wonder parents worry about their children’s welfare based on common information about the subject of children and divorce.
Divorce can negatively impact children but there are ways to keep that from happening. You should know that the impact your divorce will have on your children dependents mainly on how you and your spouse choose to treat each other during and after divorce and, how you choose to parent.
Children who witness conflict between their parents during and after divorce or, feel as if they have been put in the middle of that conflict are negatively impacted by divorce. If you want your divorce to do little harm to your children, it’s your job to keep down conflict and keep them out of the middle of problems between you and your ex.
You may feel that conflict during divorce is unavoidable or the fault of the other parent, regardless of what you feel, it is imperative that you take the steps needed to keep your children from witnessing conflict and feeling stuck in the middle of two angry parents.
Below are 4 common ways children find themselves stuck in the middle of their parent’s conflict during and after divorce.
- When parents use their children as a messenger or a means of finding out information about the other parent’s home, dating life, and social activities.
- Negative comments about the other parent made by you, friends or family members.
- Sharing adult details about the problems between the parents. Details such as information about infidelity, legal divorce proceedings or the reason for the divorce.
- Garnering the child’s favor in an attempt to use the child to punish the other parent.
- Talking to the child about money issues. A late child support check, a lack of money needed to pay the rent…adult financial problems that children have no control over.
Steps parents can take to keep from putting their child in the middle of their conflict:
Divorce brings an end to your marriage, it doesn’t bring an end to your duties as a parent. One of those duties is to put a concerted effort into positively co-parenting with your child’s other parent. Below are a few suggestions that will help.
Choosing the parenting style that fits well for you and your ex after divorce
Parallel Parenting After Divorce
If there is a lot of conflict between you and your ex, parallel parenting is appropriate. Why? Parallel parenting allows each parent to remain a part of the child’s life while reducing the need for contact with each other. When parallel parenting, there is very little communication which, in turn, keeps down the conflict and protects the child from being impacted in a negative manner.
When parallel parenting, parents:
- Communicate through email, a third party, or an app like Family Wizard to stay informed about issues involving the children. Discussions are strictly about the children and no personal issues between the parents. The use of a phone to communicate is only done in cases of an emergency.
- Schedules such as visitation, vacations, and holidays are strictly kept. There is no negotiating for different days and times to keep down the likelihood of conflicts arising.
- There is a set residency agreed upon or ordered by the courts. When the children are in the care of one or the other parent in their residence neither parent interferes with social activities, routines, or anything that takes place in the other parent’s residence.
- Neither parent has any influence over the other parent and how that parent chooses to spend time with their children. If one parent has an issue with the way the other parent is choosing to parent in their residence, the court is used to settle the issue.
- Parenting is treated as a business arrangement. Common courtesy is shown at all times and agreements are honored because the sole purpose of parallel parenting is to do what is best for your children.
- When communication or negotiation is necessary, parents can choose to have a third party involved to witness and if needed mediate any conflict that arises.
- Child support payments are filtered through the court or a child support collection bureau to keep down any possibility of late payment or conflicts of overpayments.
Cooperative Parenting After Divorce
Cooperative parenting works best when there is low conflict between parents and the parents are able to work together for the sake of the children. With cooperative parenting, there is more flexibility when it comes to visitation schedules and residency issues.
When cooperative parenting, parents:
- Parents form a friendly business relationship that revolves around the needs of their children. A courteous and polite relationship is one that will go a long way toward making sure children have what they need from each parent.
- Parents are able to talk, face-to-face about parenting issues as they arise. They are able to stick to the topic at hand without becoming distracted by old relationship issues.
- They don’t expect praise or emotional support from each other. They realize that part of their relationship has ended. But, they are able to show empathy and to support each other during difficult parenting issues.
- Keep all discussions about parenting, visitation, schedules, and such to themselves and don’t involve the children. They come to a firm decision, as parents, before involving the children in their decisions.
- Are able to, at all times, put their children’s needs above their needs and feelings. Their relationship with the other parent is strictly about what is best for their children.
- Are able to communicate via phone or in person without engaging in conflict.
- Child support checks are mailed directly to the parent receiving the support. Due to their business-like relationship, they both understand the importance of meeting their financial obligations to their children.
Whether parallel parenting or cooperative parenting, it is important to remember that one method is not better than the other. Each method will result in lower conflict and, as a result, better parenting. And, that is your goal as parents, better parenting and keeping your child out of the middle of your divorce issues.