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» How to Avoid Three Mistakes Parents Make with Their Children During Divorce

How Did I Do It? > Parenting & Kids > How to Avoid Three Mistakes Parents Make with Their Children During Divorce
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Going through a divorce can be a very painful and confusing time, especially for young kids. Children of divorce can feel as if they have been the hardest hit when their parent’s relationship comes to an end. Some children are asked to negotiate peace between arguing exes, even as they are still in the midst of grieving for the loss of a parent who abruptly moved out. Other kids must deal with living with a parent who now finds it difficult to cope with everyday tasks, such as helping with homework or making dinner.

Many kids can carry with them the scars of a messy divorce well into their adulthood. When parents look back and reflect on wounds that should never have been inflicted to begin with, these scars can become even more difficult to overcome for everyone involved. Fortunately, divorced parents can help prevent any permanent psychological damage from occurring to their children by better managing their own behavior.

With that in mind, here are a few tips parents should consider on how to deal with their children while going through a divorce.

Don’t Make Your Child the Messenger

Far too many parents attempt to communicate with their ex through their children, which can cause unneeded emotional stress on their kids and force them to attempt to negotiate a situation the adults couldn’t on their own.

Even if you don’t want to actually talk with your ex, a number of options exist that will allow the two of you to communicate without ever exchanging words that don’t involve a child. Text messaging, email, or even private messaging on websites such as Facebook can all allow you to communicate with an ex about the details of raising your children without inadvertently derailing a conversation by bringing up sensitive subjects and opening old wounds. Even more practically, it also provides a record of all conversations, which are admissible into court, so parents tend to be more careful when choosing their words and which subjects to discuss.

Also, Don’t Make Your Child Act as Therapist

Kids, especially teens, like to feel in control, and divorce robs them of this feeling. Don’t cause your children to feel even more lost and confused by falling into the trap of sharing details about the divorce or your own angry feelings towards your ex. While a child’s own anxiety towards what’s happening might allow him or her to empathize with what you’re going through, you need to act as the parent and respect the boundaries between you and your child. If you need someone to talk with, seek help from a friend, family member, or mental health professional instead.

Don’t Tell Your Child How to Feel or Think

Children need to feel understood as they struggle to deal with the emotional turmoil caused by a divorce. This makes it important that parents listen to how a divorce makes their child feel without trying to tell them how they should feel or react to what’s going on. Parents also must make every effort to never criticize their ex in front of their child. Instead, parents should respond specifically to what they’re hearing from their child. Say, for example, “It sound likes your are feeling upset/mad/sad about meeting your mom’s new boyfriend, does that sound right?” As a parent, you don’t need a solution to your child’s concerns, just to hear them out.

Timothy Lemke is a freelance writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of Cain Dentures, Seaside Oregon.

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