Divorce inspires conflicting emotions among children who want their parents to stay together but do not want to live with parents who cannot live harmoniously. Children can experience additional trauma resulting from their parents’ intentional or unintentional behavior.
By following these tips, divorcing parents can recognize and alleviate their children’s emotional burden.
Avoid openly criticizing
Parents who criticize each other can cause their children to develop feelings of anger, confusion, anxiety or abandonment. Children who constantly hear one parent denigrating the other make inaccurate conclusions about the reasons for the divorce. As a result, they may experience resentment toward one parent or conflicting feelings toward both parents.
Avoid discussing divorce terms
The challenges of not living with both parents full-time can overwhelm children. In addition, sharing details about your divorce terms can cause children to claim responsibility for the settlement outcome unnecessarily. For example, telling children that the other parent has the legal obligation to pay for any aspect of their care can lead them to believe they cannot rely on both parents equally.
Promote healthy communication
Parents can use divorce to teach their children how to disagree respectfully by modeling appropriate ways to communicate with each other. For example, parents should not express their opposing opinions with hostility. Instead, they should speak calmly, listen attentively, pose questions rather than make demands, and be willing to compromise.
Resist a resentful attitude
Former spouses who agree to co-parent should avoid expressing disappointment and resentment about their children’s time with the other parent. Doing so could cause children to feel guilty or blame one parent for how the other parent feels.
Spouses who amicably work toward child custody and co-parenting arrangements protect their children by minimizing a divorce’s negative emotional impact.