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Divorcing with Children: What Every Parent Should Know

 Posted on September 12, 2016 in Child Custody

Although divorce is, at its core, the ending of an adult relationship, it is not just the parents who are affected. In fact, children often experience stress, grief, and even anger during the process. This is understandable, considering their lives are also being turned upside down. Paired with their inability to fully comprehend the reason behind the divorce, they can be at great risk for long-term problems. Thankfully, parents who are intentional, mindful, and empathetic to their child's struggles can minimize the risk of lasting troubles. The following information can help you take this approach in your divorce.

Ripping the Band-Aid Off

Parents often think that, if they stay together for the children, things will be easier. Though they live with the regret of staying in an unhappy marriage, it somehow seems worth it if their children turn out okay. Unfortunately, what a lot of parents do not know is that staying together for the children is rarely a good thing. This is especially true when there is a lot of conflict in the marriage. In fact, studies have indicated that it is stress in a household - not an actual divorce - that negatively affects children. So, despite your reservations, despite any worries you may have, it is often best to simply move forward. You should also move forward with intention, and without delay. The longer you stay, the more damaging the effect on your children may be.

Remembering Your Child is a Child

While it may seem like an easy concept to grasp, a lot of parents behave in ways that suggest they have forgotten that their child is still just a child. They overshare information about the divorce. They lean on their child for support. Some even attempt to use their child in ways that are unhealthy, such as asking their child to spy on their ex-spouse. These acts are often detrimental to a child, even when committed without intention, so if you catch yourself doing them, take a step back and analyze your position.

Never Making Your Ex-Spouse the "Bad Guy"

Divorce can bring out the worst in people - not because they are bad people, but because they are hurt and grieving. This makes it critical for parents to be aware of their words and actions, especially when those words or actions are carried out in front of their children. Are you enticing your child with special vacations or events on the day your spouse is supposed to spend time with them? Have you found yourself saying things on the phone to your friends about the divorce while your child is within hearing range? Do you catch yourself making jabs at your spouse over the phone while your child is around?

These kinds of behaviors can make your child feel as if they have to "choose" one parent over the other, and that can create all sorts of emotional issues. As much as you might be struggling, remember that your child is hurting as well. They need your support, and they need you to remember that they still love the other parent. That does not diminish their love for you. It simply means there is more love to go around. (Note: even in situations where the other parent is toxic, dangerous, or abusive, you should avoid speaking badly about them in front of your children. Over time, they will come to their own conclusions.)

Protecting Your Child's Best Interests

No matter what the situation, it is critical that you always safeguard the best interests. So, if they have a healthy relationship with the other parent, this means that you should be fostering and encouraging parenting time with them. On the other hand, if there is a risk to your child - such as abuse or addiction - then it is critical that you take aggressive steps to ensure this is factored into the parenting plan.

At The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C., we know how precious your child is to you, and we believe they deserve a happy and healthy future. Our DuPage County family law attorneys can help you craft a creative parenting plan that will work for the entire family. Whenever necessary, we take aggressive action to help protect them from damaging situations. Get skilled and experienced assistance with your divorce and child-related matters. Call 630-462-9500 today.



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