A very common questions parents ask before considering divorce is “Should we stay together for the kids?” Many moms and dads are reluctant to separate due to the potential trauma their divorce could have on their children. The thought of watching your child go through the emotional and psychological process of divorce is enough to make some people try and “stick it out”.
However, oftentimes, staying together for the kids has its own set of (potentially worse) consequences. Living in a home with parents who do not speak, are not involved in one another’s lives, or have loud, frequent arguments, can be much more stressful on a child than the option of living in two separate homes. With separate homes brings a less combative environment and, eventually, parents who are at ease.
How Do I Make Things Better?
Still worried your split will upset your child? There are other ways to help. Many parents seek counseling or other professional assistance during the divorce process. A counselor as an outside third party can help your child express their emotions without the fear of upsetting Mom or Dad. Additionally, moms and dads can alleviate some of the anxiety of the divorce process by coordinating with their co-parent to keep the child’s schedule as normal as possible. Is your child splitting their time between homes? Make sure to coordinate schedules so they never have to miss a soccer practice. Keeping life routine, when possible, allows the children to see that, despite fears, many parts of their life will remain unchanged.
The single biggest thing we see clients do in our practice that hurts their children is putting their own emotions and hatred ahead of the children. Once you enter into a co-parenting relationship, it is no longer about your comfort level. It is about your kids. While important to remember in any divorce, it is particularly helpful in cases with custody issues to remember that at some point you liked the other party, maybe even enough to have children with them. You are capable of respecting and communicating with the other parent. Do it for your kids.