Kids and Divorce: How Not to Mess up Your Kids During Your Divorce
Updated: Oct 28
If you're in the middle of a divorce, just coming out of one, or considering one, you may be wondering, "is divorce bad for a child?" The short answer is… it depends on how you handle it. Even parents with the best intentions make mistakes. So, if you want to avoid permanent damage, keep reading to learn how to navigate kids and divorce the right way.
How Divorce Affects Children
Divorce is tough on kids. They may experience a range of emotions, from sadness and anger to fear, guilt, and worry. There are other classic symptoms, too.
● Trouble sleeping
● Loss of appetite
● Difficulty concentrating at school
● Trouble relating to friends
If you want to help your children cope with divorce and move on from it quickly, consider these dos and don'ts.
5 Things NOT to Do When You're Navigating Kids and Divorce
You can't control your ex, but you can control how you respond to them. So, here are five things not to do if you're navigating kids and divorce.
#1: Never Talk Badly About Your Ex in Front of Your Children
Remember, your child is a part of both of you. When you talk badly about your ex, your kids may internalize the criticism.
#2: Don't Put Your Children in the Middle of Conflict
When judges interview children, they often hear the same complaint: "I wish my parents would just talk to each other." Too many parents make their children serve as a go-between, and it's not healthy or fair.
#3: Never Ask Your Children to Pick Sides
It is crucial for the children to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents when possible. Forcing a child to choose sides does not help.
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#4: Don't Use Your Child as a Pawn
In the heat of the moment, it’s tempting to make threats or vow to withhold visits, but it will not help you in the long run. On the contrary, this behavior often sabotages any chance of reaching an agreement. Before you compromise the outcome of your case, review these parenting guidelines from the 18th Judicial District.
#5: Do Not Discuss Your Court Case with Your Children
It's usually not a good idea to discuss legal aspects of the case with your children — this includes any talk about custodial schedule, social workers, and DSS. However, if you need to have these conversations, make sure to involve both parents or a therapist.
5 Things to Do When Co-parenting During a Divorce
1. Play nice. Children from two-parent families and those who live with their parents in separate homes can both grow to be emotionally healthy adults if their parents model good behavior.
2. Put kids first for the holidays. Make sure your children can celebrate significant holidays with both sides of the family and continue any favorite traditions.
3. Be vulnerable, yet balanced, with your emotions. When children see their parents express intense emotions, they learn it is okay to have these feelings and be vulnerable. However, oversharing can make children feel responsible for your feelings.
4. Always keep your kids' best interests at heart. Parents often ask, "How can this affect my case?" Instead, ask, "How can this affect our kids?"
5. Seek therapy. Even if you don't think your child "needs" it, every child has big emotions associated with divorce. Therapy is a valuable tool for any child experiencing change. Play therapy can help younger children process their emotions and develop resilience. Older kids will do better talking it out. These books about divorce are helpful, too.
If You Need Help Navigating Kids and Divorce, Trust Spidell Family Law
Divorce is not a walk in the park. Even if it's mostly amicable, it can be a very difficult time for your children. If you need a legal team that will help you approach the process with confidence, you can trust Spidell Family Law to handle your case with care.
Spidell Family Law’s Mission Statement is to provide high-quality legal services while ensuring professionalism and integrity. Our service to clients is of utmost importance, and we strive to give each case and client the attentiveness, compassion, and legal advice they need to guide them through the difficult family law process. We focus on a team approach to our practice, with attorney/staff collaboration, and encourage each member of our team to pursue their goals, both inside and outside of the business. Spidell Family Law also recognizes the importance of community. Our team dedicates time outside of the business for community service, volunteering, and helping to make our community a better place. “Encourage one another and build each other up” Thessalonians 5:11 Spidell Family Law—more than just a law firm.