Parents so often forget that a divorce impacts more than just their own relationship with their spouse, but has a drastic life-shattering impact on their children at the same time. The perspective of a child during a divorce is often one of disbelief and fear. Children know their life as the same day-to-day, full of stability. Holidays are spent with extended family and weekends are spent doing fun family activities. When parents begin tossing around the “d” word, children see this as the absolute worst possibility. This means the end of family holidays, the end of family nights, and the beginning of terrible confrontations between both parents.
It is important to keep in mind the welfare of your child during the beginning stages of divorce. Children are very intuitive and pick up on a number of things that you may not think are easily discernible. It is therefore important to keep your actions in check despite all the conflict that is going on with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Children can pick up on tense situations and are increasingly aware that they may be called to speak to the judge regarding which parent they want to live with. It is unfair to put your children in this position and try to do your best to mitigate this type of behavior.
Children are unfortunately brought into the middle of many arguments, divorces, and divorce proceedings, often to use as leverage against the other spouse. One spouse may use the child to dictate their version of the argument or may try to bribe the child to say they wish to live with them. These are all deplorable behavior patterns and should never be implemented during a divorce. Your children are already anxiously trying to think how they will continue to make both parents happy and how they will spend future holidays – they do not need to worry about making life altering decisions.
Divorce is a terrible thing to happen to all those involved, but do not lose sight of your children. Children take the brunt of the divorce to heart and are likely to carry the scars with them throughout their life if they are heavily involved in all aspects of divorce. It is therefore important to try and shield your children from as much as possible during all stages of divorce and calmly remind them (together with your spouse) that this does not mean the family dynamic will change, just simply that you and your spouse need to go in opposite directions, due to no fault of the child. Continue to remind them that both you and your spouse will always love them and your divorce has nothing to do with them.