Helping Your Child Cope During And After Your Divorce
In any divorce, there are at least three sides to the situation: his side, her side and the truth. When a child is involved, their perception of the situation creates a fourth side, which must be addressed in order to cushion the blow. Regardless of where you stand, whether you were right or wrong, knowing how to help your child get through the rough patch of life that a divorce creates needs to be an important part of the process.
The Blame Game
The easiest way to deal with the damage done from you and your spouse blaming each other is not getting started in the first place. Have this discussion with your spouse, make it clear that you want what is best for your shared child and resolve to do all you can to avoid bad mouthing each other where you can be overheard. It's not easy, but it is necessary and can help make it easier for them to get through this transition.
Remember that every negative statement you make about your spouse affects your mood, and if they're overheard by your child they'll be affected too. This can lead to feelings of resentment toward you or your spouse, and may impact their own self-image. Not only will playing the blame game damage your relationship with your child, they may end up blaming themselves for the failure of your marriage.
Open and Honest Communication
It's going to take time to get used to having time apart from your child, for both of you. Once the divorce is finalized and child custody is settled, you'll need to pay close attention to your own behavior to make sure it's not negatively affecting your child. This all starts with watching what you say, when you say it and how you say it.
If you're not the custodial parent, you need to be sure you're not making any promises that can't be realistically kept. Set expectations and abide by them yourself, but if you can't follow through on something make sure you're honest about why. It might not be the most pleasant way of handling a situation, but in the long run your child will respect you more. If you are the custodial parent, don't feel obligated to make excuses for your ex-spouse. Let them explain themselves, and give them the benefit of the doubt.
Going through a divorce is hard on everyone involved, especially children. By taking the time to have a serious discussion with them, and doing all you can to ease the transition, they'll turn out to be far more well-adjusted adults and you'll still have their love and respect. Make sure that you have a good lawyer from a firm like Abom & Kutulakis LLP on your side to help make the ordeal easier.