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December 14, 2015

What to Do (and What Not to Do) With Children During Your Divorce

We happened upon an excellent blog article recently from the Brazos Valley Collaborative Divorce Alliance, a group of collaborative divorce professionals based in College Station. We recently covered the impact of divorce on children, which was a big topic at the latest International Association of Collaborative Professionals conference, but the article from our friends in College Station gives good, specific advice on best ways to proceed with your children when you’re in a divorce.

Their first piece of advice is something that’s good advice across the board — to be truthful. They point out that while children won’t need or want a lengthy discussion of why you’re getting divorced, something easy like “you see how many things we disagree on” can be enough to give them a sufficient explanation that allows them to connect what they’ve been seeing (as children are sometimes more observant than we believe them to be) to what you’re telling them.

They also caution parents to exercise discretion — in other words, to be respectful to your spouse consistently, to not fight in front of the children, and to practice civility. It’s a difficult time full of emotions, but as we’ve recently discussed, arguments that parents have during divorce really do affect the children.

One thoughtful piece of advice they offer is to be not be upset when it’s time for your spouse to have parenting time with the children. Children can be made to feel guilty about going away, and might not enjoy their time with your spouse . . . and that’s not at all good for the co-parenting relationship going forward. In divorce, you need some time by yourself, so you should treasure that opportunity.

Finally, the authors put forward the message of “you’ll love them throughout this chapter of your journey together” as one that you and your spouse should take to heart. It’s difficult to go through the journey, but by reinforcing your love will remain strong, and by emphasizing that this is just a chapter in your lives together, it allows kids to have hope in a situation that can be a lot for them to deal with.

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