Children Come First
Not every marriage is a happy one and unhappy marriages end in divorce. It’s okay, nobody should stay in an unhappy relationship, not even “for the kids”. In fact, staying in an unhappy marriage will probably do more harm than good to your children, as they will learn and internalize the unhealthy dynamic. But no matter the circumstances of your divorce, your children will always come first.
This is a difficult time for you. Grieving your relationship while probably engaging in a legal battle is no easy task for anyone, but when children are involved, everything is that much harder. Still, it is your responsibility to ensure that your children’s needs are met and that means dealing with your divorce in a healthy way.
Make sure your children feel loved
Let your children know that they are loved. It doesn’t matter if your ex and you are not together anymore, you are both still parents and you both love your kids. Make sure they understand the divorce has nothing to do with them and try to make time to talk, listen and play with them, even in the middle of an ugly legal battle.
Never use your children as pawns
It’s understandable you are hurt by this marriage ending and you may have some resentment towards your ex. That is your cross to bear, though and your children have nothing to do with it. Keep that in mind when trying to reach a custody or child support agreement. Your children are not weapons nor tools, don’t treat them as such.
Don’t lie to your kids
Kids are young, but they are not stupid. They notice when things are not working, and they will catch up to all of your lies. It can be tempting to sugarcoat the situation in order to spare your children’s feelings, but that will do more harm than good. Don’t make excuses for the other parent if they are behaving incorrectly and let your children express their feelings openly. This goes both ways, though: don’t feel tempted to badmouth the other parent to your kids or exaggerate the situation to make it seem worse. If at all possible, avoid passing judgment or criticizing your ex in front of the kids.
If your custody arrangement needs altering to meet the other parent’s schedule, see if you can meet them halfway. It can be difficult to compromise with someone that hurt you, but this is about your children, not you.
Whenever you need to interact with your ex in front of your children, be polite and smile. If you disagree on something, wait until your children are gone in order to express yourself. No fighting, no screaming and no swearing if your children are around. You don’t need to be friends with your ex. But for your children’s sake, you both need to make an effort not to fight while they are around.