If you’re contemplating or going through a divorce, your children’s well-being is likely your top concern. Navigating divorce with children can be extremely difficult because of the known negative effects it can have on them. However, it’s important to understand that the extent to which divorce affects your children largely depends on how you and your soon-to-be ex handle the situation and your parenting approach.
Conflict between parents, and children feeling caught in the middle, are primary factors that can negatively impact them. To mitigate these effects, it’s crucial to prioritize minimizing conflict and keeping your children away from the middle of parental disputes.
How to Navigate Divorce With Children
Below are some of the negative things parents do that can affect their children:
- Using Children as Messengers: When parents employ their children as messengers to gather information about the other parent’s personal life, dating, or social activities.
- Negative Comments: Making disparaging remarks about the other parent, whether by you, friends, or family members.
- Sharing Adult Details: Revealing adult-level details about the reasons for divorce, legal proceedings, or instances of infidelity.
- Trying to Garner Favor: Attempting to manipulate the child to gain an advantage over the other parent or using the child as a means of punishment.
- Discussing Financial Problems: Sharing adult financial issues, such as late child support payments or rent struggles, which children have no control over.
Divorce marks the end of a marital relationship but not your responsibility as a parent. Co-parenting positively with your ex-spouse should be a shared commitment. Here are two parenting styles that can help you avoid putting your child in the middle of your divorce:
Parallel Parenting After Divorce
This approach is suitable when significant conflict exists between you and your ex-spouse. Parallel parenting reduces direct contact between parents and, subsequently, minimizes conflict, safeguarding children from negative impacts. In this arrangement:
- Communication primarily occurs through email, a third party, or specialized apps like Family Wizard to discuss child-related issues.
- Visitation schedules, vacations, and holidays are rigorously adhered to without room for negotiation.
- Residency arrangements are firmly set and not interfered with, maintaining a consistent environment for the child.
- Neither parent has influence over the other’s parenting choices, with court intervention settling disputes.
- Parenting is treated as a business arrangement, focusing on the children’s best interests. Common courtesy is upheld, and agreements are honored.
- Third-party involvement can mediate and witness communication or negotiations when necessary.
- Child support payments are channeled through the court or a child support collection agency to prevent late payments and conflicts.
Cooperative Parenting After Divorce
This style is suitable when conflict is low, and parents can work together for the benefit of the children. Cooperative parenting offers more flexibility in visitation schedules and residency issues. In this approach:
- Parents establish a courteous business relationship centered on their children’s needs, maintaining politeness and empathy.
- Face-to-face discussions about parenting issues occur without distraction from past relationship problems.
- Emotional support or praise is not expected from each other, but they offer empathy and support during challenging parenting situations.
- Parental discussions regarding parenting, visitation, schedules, and decisions are kept private and not shared with the children.
- Children’s needs always take precedence over parental feelings or desires. The focus is on what’s best for the children.
- Communication, either via phone or in person, is conflict-free.
- Child support payments are directly sent to the receiving parent.
Both parallel and cooperative parenting are effective methods to reduce conflict and enhance your parenting. The key is to prioritize the well-being of your children and ensure that they remain isolated from the difficulties surrounding your divorce.