Children are sometimes an unintended casualty of divorce or custody litigation. It can be very easy to get so caught up in fighting for the children that the children get lost in the fight. Here are some tips to help minimize the stress on the kids.
- Don’t talk to the kids about the litigation. It’s sometimes very tempting to quiz the kids about where they want to live, what happens when they are at your ex’s house, or how they feel about your ex. If they ask you about it, tell them that both their parents love them very much and that, no matter what changes, that one fact will never change.
- Don’t give the kids too much power. It’s especially tempting with teenagers to say “they’re almost grown they can make up their own minds.” This puts them in the middle of your fight and is entirely too much pressure for a child.
- Don’t demean your ex. Even if you think the kids can’t hear it, they probably will. You likely have to co-parent with your ex for the rest of your lives. They may have been an awful spouse/significant other, but they’re still the parent of your child.
- Get them someone to talk to. It’s almost always useful to get your kids involved with a therapist. It healthy for them to have someone external to the divorce to talk to. Talking to a neutral lets them lay it all out there without feeling like they’re taking sides.
- Remember why you’re having this fight. Sometimes divorce and custody litigation can get heated and personal. When that happens, it’s easy to let emotion cloud your judgment. Try to clear your head and remember that it isn’t about winning and losing, it’s about what is best for your kids.
While there isn’t a magic formula to keep kids happy during litigation, if you follow these steps it’s likely you and your kids will be much happier for it in the long run.