Divorce: Your Child Is Watching!

Divorce is never easy. In the eyes of a child, it is never about money or property.  It is only about emotions and lifestyle changes.  It is never easy to adapt to new situations, and therefore it is important to keep disputes about personal and financial matters out of sight for the children’s sake.  Children do not understand the value of land or the importance of the 401K. Below are five (5) tips to keep in mind that you can do to help a child during a divorce.

  1. Never speak badly about the other parent in front of the child.  It can be very hurtful to hear one parent bash the other.  Hard feelings are understandable, but do not express them in front of the child. All children love their parents unconditionally.  Just as name calling at school hurts all children, it is hurtful for them to hear name calling about their parents.
  2. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other holidays.  It is hard for a child to provide any type of gift to a parent when the child is not working. Take your child to a store, even the dollar store and pick up a little something for the other parent, on behalf of the child.  As angry as you might be towards your ex, you are not actually buying something for your ex, you are buying something for your child to give to the other parent so they will not feel bad.  Picking up a card or helping your child create something is an idea too.  By getting your child a gift for the other parent on a special day, you help your child feel like a star.
  3. Since celebrating holidays with your ex and child together is often difficult, embrace the number “2.”  Now your child gets “2” birthdays and “2” holiday celebrations.  A child may look forward to celebrating Christmas “2” times or having “2” different birthday celebrations.
  4. Raise your child together, but apart.  When a child asks for something, and you tell them no, let the other parent know your answer, but even more why that was your answer.  With that knowledge, it is important not to let the child persuade you as the other parent to say OK.  There is nothing more frustrating than trying to teach a child a lesson when the other parent is saying it is OK.
  5. Celebrate milestones together.  There will be many in a child’s life that a mother and father will both attend.  Learn to put on a “game face” when you are around your ex, at least for your child.  At graduations and weddings in particular, your child is going to want both parents at these events. Therefore, cooperate with the other parent so you do not distract from your child’s big day.

At the end of the day, following these tips will help your child adapt to its new situation.  You can also walk away feeling pretty good too, knowing you are helping keep that smile on your child’s face.