Children and Divorce

Divorce, while emotionally difficult for the parents, is infinitely harder on the children.  Questions of custody and the allocation of parenting time bear heavily on the parents, not to mention the question of what happens on a parental relocation as a matter of Kentucky law.

Whatever qualms the parents are feeling, however, don't come close to what the children are feeling. A recent survey out of Australia yielded results which, quite sadly, greatly resemble my apocryphal observations from my practice here in Louisville:

"DIVORCED parents are often in denial about how badly the break-up has damaged their children, a survey has found.

More than three quarters believed their children had 'coped well' - even though just 18 per cent of youngsters said they were happy with the situation.

Many parents fail to notice that their children are turning to drink and drugs, or even considering suicide, the poll found. Some were insensitive enough to break the news of the divorce to their children by text.

One in five of the children polled felt there was no point confiding in either their mother or father because they were 'too wrapped up in themselves'."

The stastical breakdown of the 1000 participant survey was, quite frankly more damning than even those first lurid headlines.

In short, parents in crisis can do better by their children than they have been.

1.  Be open and up front about the fact that hard changes are coming, in an age-appropriate way.  If you can, sit down and talk to your children together, omitting the reasons but being clear that each parent loves them and wants the best for them.  Be a united front on this.

2. Refrain from criticizing the other parent in the presence of the children.  When such criticism occurs, the children make judgments as well, and this affects how they see each parent - and remember, undeserved or overblown criticism can be judged even more harshly than the misstep itself.

3. Don't use your child as a go-between for information or money.  

4. Your child isn't your friend or your sounding board for talking through your breakup or your pending romantic prospects.  Your child is your child, and deserves the respect you can show by acting appropriately.

5. Just as you shouldn't criticize the other parent in the presence of your child, you should also avoid levying that criticism at in-laws.

6. Let your children see you praise their school or extracurricular activity performance while in the presence of your ex.  Let it be a joint happy moment.

7. Continue to be involved in all activities even if that means you may have to interact with your ex.  Remember - you picked that other parent, not them, and will have to maintain some form of a relationship as long as they live.  It should be a friendly one.

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