As difficult as divorce is for the parties, it is far more traumatic for the children. When parents divorce, every aspect of the children’s life is up-ended as they watch their parents prepare to go to war against each other.
Children, who should enjoy the unconditional love and affection of both parents, may be drawn into the battle as their loyalty is tested. A showing or expression of affection for one parent could be taken as a sign of betrayal to the other. Children must stagger through an emotional minefield while their parents battle.
Although it seems like common sense, in order to minimize the children’s battle scars, parents need be mindful of the messages they are sending to the children. In particular, they need be cognizant of not only what they are saying, but how they are saying it. Of course, some subjects are just off limits.
The Texas Family Law Blog offers an instructive guide of things not to say to children and I have interposed my thoughts.
1. Do not say “Nothing is going to change.”
Be honest with you children and don’t lie. The truth is probably everything that matters to the children is going to change- the children’s relationship with each of their parents is going to be different. The family will no longer be intact and the children may even have to move and change schools. The economics of the family may change.
Perhaps offer that change offers new opportunities and that change does not have to be bad.
2. Do not talk negatively about the other parent to the children.
Though you may be tempted to vent your frustration to your children, don’t!
If your spouse is unloving, cheap or selfish, in time your kids will figure it out on their own. In the interim, the children should be directed to love and respect both parents
3. Do not blame the divorce on the children or your spouse.
Divorce is never just one person’s fault and it is certainly not the fault of the children.
4. Do not discuss the details of the case with the children.
There is no reason for the children to know the details of the divorce. Court documents should not be left on the kitchen counter for children to pick up and casually read.
5. Do not use the children to spy on your ex.
When the children come back from visiting your ex, don’t interrogate them on what the ex said about you or what they did. They children should not be your messenger or your spies.
6. Do not argue with your ex in front of the children.
Children have two parents. They are entitled to share the love and affection of both. In the end, parents should not do anything to prevent that from happening.