Divorce is rough on everyone involved, particularly the children. As parents going through this difficult time, it’s important to still make time to ensure your children are doing well emotionally and mentally. In reality, your child’s life is changing significantly. They’re going to experience new emotions that they may not be prepared to handle. And even though you’re trying to make sense of your own emotions, it’s important to understand how to protect your child in a divorce.
How to Protect Children During Divorce
Although it’s nearly impossible to completely protect children through the divorce process, there are things you can do to help protect your kids and yourself as you navigate divorce proceedings together.
Start the Healing Process
While this may seem difficult, it’s important that you approach your grief in a proactive and positive way. This sets a good example for your children while also showing that you’re committed to your kids. It’s okay to grieve for the life you shared as a family. Acknowledge those feelings but also focus on how you can move forward. Spend time thinking about the positive aspects of life after divorce for you and your children. Talk to your child and let them know they’re loved. Listen to what your child says and pay attention to how your child feels. There’s also nothing wrong with looking into family therapy if you feel you may need it.
Minimize Conflict Exposure
Getting divorced is challenging, especially if parents aren’t agreeing when it comes to financial issues, child custody and visitation, and property distribution. While divorce mediation is a great tool, it doesn’t always work. And, while you may not be able to control what you and your spouse agree on, you can minimize your child’s exposure to this conflict.
Do your best as you prepare for divorce and throughout the divorce process to avoid parental conflict in front of your children. As parents divorce, there are bound to be conflicts and negative feelings. Set appropriate boundaries for discussing difficult topics with your spouse including when and where. Remember that you’re both interested in protecting your child’s mental and emotional wellbeing during this time.
Create a Respectful Co-Parenting Relationship
Make every effort to cooperate and compromise without jeopardizing your legal interests or the safety of yourself or your children. Communication with the other parent during this time should be calm and professional. You may have to push aside your own feelings during interactions in order to protect your children’s mental and emotional health. By creating and sticking to boundaries you and the other parent are more likely to foster a secure and emotionally stable environment for your children.
Avoid Speaking Negatively
It’s important for your child to believe that each of their parents is a good person who loves them. This means that parents need to understand that the disagreements and differences that ended the marriage are irrelevant to their character and strengths as a parent. Children do better with two loving and stable parents in their lives whenever possible. Part of your parental responsibility while getting divorced or separated is to continue to foster the relationship between your child and their other parent except in cases of domestic abuse or domestic violence. If you or your child have been physically abused by the other parent, then it’s important to take all necessary precautions to protect yourself and your child. It may also be beneficial to speak with a therapist.
That being said, in a non-violent breakup, you want to encourage the relationship between the other parent and children during divorce and beyond. Not only will talking negatively about the other parent put your child in the middle, but it can also affect their self-esteem, and self-worth, add unnecessary stress or anger to your children’s lives, and Texas courts look down on this behavior. Parents who alienate children against the other parent could potentially lose child custody or visitation rights.
Show Concern, not Curiosity
Living apart means facing new challenges as a family. There will be times when your child will not be in your care, but in the care of the other parent. This is a new situation for the separated parents and the children. While it can be tempting to ask questions to learn about the other parent’s mistakes or weaknesses, this is not the time.
If you do wish to ask your child about their time with the other parent, do so from a place of support. It’s natural to be curious about how your ex is getting along or what their new home is like. But this is not the time to be nosey. There’s nothing wrong with having the desire to hear about the visit as long as you don’t cross any boundaries. Your attention should be focused on your child and their needs more so than what your ex-partner is up to. Don’t treat your child as a spy. Instead, ask questions focused on the child’s feelings and needs.
Support Your Children
Many parents think their children are mature enough that they can handle separation and divorce without difficulty. However, they may be hurting on the inside and just unwilling to share their true feelings because they either don’t want to contribute to your own grief or for some other reason. It’s important you continue open and loving communication with your child, seeking out a therapist when necessary. Sometimes, the effects of divorce don’t surface for several years. The best thing you can do is be attentive to your child’s physical, emotional, and mental health and needs.
Talk to Your Child About the Divorce
Let your child know that you’re available to discuss the divorce. Make sure they understand that they are not responsible for the divorce or taking care of either parent. Reassure your child that everything will be okay and answer any questions they may have to the best of your ability. Do this without speaking negatively about the other parent
How to Protect Your Child During a Divorce
If you’re going through separation and divorce, one of the most important things you can do is sit down and create parenting plans. Having a solid parenting plan in writing can help prevent issues and help parents make decisions on what is in the best interest of the child. A parenting plan will include custody, visitation, and helps serve as a guide when you aren’t seeing eye to eye. It’s a reflection of your goals, intent, and values.
There are several healthy ways you and your child can adapt to your new reality. Young people are resilient, and many children pull through a divorce just fine with the help of their parents. Just because your marriage is ending and the future looks different, doesn’t mean that you and your child are doomed to sadness and despair. Find healthy ways to work through this together.
It’s also a good idea to hire a qualified divorce attorney if you are going through a divorce. At The Jimenez Law Firm, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients and their children. We can provide legal advice every step of the way.
Call The Jimenez Law Firm today at (214) 513-0125 to speak with our legal team. In addition to your divorce, we can also assist with child support payments, spousal support, prenuptial agreements, and much more.