Divorce and separation can be a difficult, challenging and emotional time for everyone. That’s especially true for children, who often end up on the receiving end of or witnessing their parent’s anger and frustration. Those wounds can take a long time to heal if they’re not managed properly. However, by taking the right steps, and with the right care, attention and support, your children can come through a separation or divorce as healthy, emotionally strong and positive as they were beforehand.
The important thing to remember is to always put your children first. This isn’t always easy to do. You’re already under a lot of stress as you negotiate this journey, and your soon-to-be ex may be making it even more difficult, possibly even using the children as pawns during negotiations. But following the guidelines below will help your children, and you, reduce the strain and make life easier and better for everyone.
One. Make the children your number one priority. Even when it’s difficult, think about their needs before yours. After all, they didn’t ask for this. Talk to them, listen, let them know what they think and feel matters, and try to maintain regular daily routines whenever possible.
Two. Don’t blame anyone. Don’t try to convince your children that your spouse is at fault or get them to choose sides. Your feelings about your spouse may have changed, but your children should feel the same parental bonds they felt before.
Three. Communicate openly and honestly. Tell them it’s not their fault, that you both love them, and everything will turn out fine. Letting them know what’s happening in advance (for example, where they will spend Christmas) will give them a feeling of security.
Four. Keep a positive outlook. If you’re constantly complaining or unhappy, your children will pick up on this and react in a similar fashion. Happy, healthy parents will result in happier, healthier kids.
Five. Go easy on yourself. No one is perfect, and this is all new for you too. You’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to have bad days as well as good. You and your kids will go through periods of anger, hurt and confusion. Just remember – stay focused on the long term. It will get better.
Kathy Batycky is a senior lawyer practicing in counsel at Stoner & Company Family Law in Oakville and Burlington. She has recently completed the training to interview children and prepare ‘Voice of the Child’ reports for separating parents, which ensures that a child’s voice is heard by way of a non-evaluative report that states the child’s wishes.
Stoner & Company Family Law helps clients resolve all family law matters. Our team of family lawyers are dedicated, professional and experienced, committed to getting the best possible outcomes efficiently and effectively. We’re in your corner.
Stoner & Company Family Law
Burlington 390 Brant Street #406
Oakville 238 Lakeshore Road East