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Mistakes to Avoid as a Divorcing Parent

If you and your spouse are getting a divorce and have children, how you dissolve your marriage will matter greatly in terms of their wellbeing. Your marriage is ending, but your relationship as parents will continue on, so it is crucial that you approach this delicate situation without causing your children emotional harm. This might seem easier said than done, especially if you and your spouse are ending things on a particularly bad note, but it is important to learn how to set your differences aside for the betterment of your children.

Below is a list of some mistakes you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse would do well to avoid:

  • Do not turn your children into messengers: Divorcing parents often mistakably turn their children into messengers, using them to communicate with each other. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior only puts unnecessary emotional stress on them. You are essentially asking them to field their way through some adult issues that you and your spouse are unable to handle on your own. Instead of having your children serve as messengers throughout this process, try other modes of communication, such as email. This will allow you to communicate without exposing your children to any harmful vitriol that you or your spouse might sling at each other. It also creates a recorded record of all correspondence between the two of you.
  • Do not turn your children into therapists: This is a mistake that can happen particularly with older kids who are in their teens and eager to be helpful, but no matter how tempting it is to share the details of your divorce or the angry feelings you have regarding your spouse, do not fall into this trap. It is not their responsibility to be your therapist and it will undoubtedly become too much for them to bear. Your role as a parent is to listen to them and help them cope, so refrain from swapping roles. If you really need someone to talk to, seek therapy from a professional.
  • Do not give your children the third degree: When your children spend time with your ex-spouse, try not to make this situation stressful for them by grilling them on or making them feel guilty about the time they are spending with their other parent. You should also avoid giving them the silent treatment. Just try to treat this as a visit to their aunt or uncle and ask them fun questions to remove the tension.
  • Do not tell your children what to think: This is a difficult time for your children and they will need to feel like they are being understood, which means you need to listen to them. You might loathe your spouse right now, but it is important not to criticize him or her right now or to tell them how they should feel about their other parent. Simply allow them to share how they feel.

You Can Repair the Damage

No one is perfect, so if you believe you already made some of the aforementioned mistakes, you can still turn things around and repair any damage you might have done. Younger children are generally very forgiving, though it can be a little more difficult to undo the emotional fall-out when it comes to older children who are in their late teens. Here are some tips for you to follow when attempting to fix mistakes you might have made:

  • Apologize to your children. A genuine, heartfelt apology will go a long way with them.
  • Explain what you have done wrong and make a commitment to correcting your behavior moving forward.
  • Give your children and specific signal that can serve as a time-out for you, so they can inform you when you are engaging in the same kind of behavior you promised not to do. For example, you can tell them to raise their hand if you begin criticizing your ex.

Divorce Attorney in Newton

If you and your spouse are in the process of getting a divorce, you need to take the necessary steps to safeguard your interests and future. At The Halks Firm, our team of family law attorneys in Newton has the experience and knowledge that is necessary to effectively assist you in navigating this emotionally charged and complex process. No problem is too big for our team to tackle.

Get started on your case and contact our law firm today at (781) 995-0107 to schedule a consultation.