Guidelines For Divorced Parents
- Recognize that divorce or separation is a highly emotional experience. Allow yourself and your children time for adjustment.
- Assure children that they are not to blame for the break-up and that you still love them. Children, especially young ones, often feel they have done something wrong and believe family problems are their fault.
- Continuing anger or bitterness toward your former partner can injure children far more than the divorce or separation itself. Refrain from criticizing the other parent. Such remarks are not only about your former spouse, but about someone your children love.
- Do not force or encourage your children to take sides. To do so builds frustration, guilt and resentment.
- Do not upset children’s routines too abruptly. Help children ease into their new routines as smoothly as possible.
- Limit your consumption of alcohol and do not use recreational drugs before or during your time with your children.
- Occasionally, nonresidential parents who are hurt or angry or feel they are no longer needed ask why they should make the effort to be with their children. The answer is simple. Your children still need both parents.
- Divorce or separation often leads to financial pressures on both parents and sacrifices must often be made by everyone. Be honest with your children when talking about these matters, and be sure any discussions are free of accusations against the other parent.
- Marriage breakdown is always hard on the children. They may not always talk about the way they feel or realize what this will mean to them. Parents need to be direct in telling children what is happening, and why, in a simple way that is appropriate to each child’s age. Do not lead children to feel that they must never talk or even think about what they know is taking place.
- The guilt parents may feel about the marriage breakdown need not interfere with discipline and correction of their children. The discipline that was necessary when both parents were present in the home is no less important when parents no longer live together. Children will be less likely to play parents against each other when rules are consistent. Do not attempt to buy your children’s favor by special treatment or by making promises you know you cannot keep. The roles of step-parents with regard to discipline must also be clear to children, parents, and step-parents.
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