The end of a marriage is rarely easy or simple, but the emotional and practical strains increase exponentially when divorce involves children. Sadly, children are often the ones who carry emotional burdens from a divorce into adulthood, even when parents do not want them to suffer.
Without careful planning and patience on the part of divorcing parents, children may suffer deep wounds that affect them for the rest of their upbringing and into adulthood. While you cannot avoid all of these potential pitfalls as a parent, you can certainly minimize the damage that your divorce causes by considering you child along every step of the divorce process. The time and effort you put into preserving you child’s best interests during the divorce may not prove easy or painless, but it is a worthy sacrifice as a loving parent.
Approaching your divorce with clear priorities for your child’s well-being helps give you structure in a difficult time, and reinforces the importance of protecting your rights and the rights of those who depend you. Do not underestimate how damaging a poorly executed divorce can ultimately be, both for parents and children.
Avoid toxic behavior
Your child is a person, not a piece of property for you and your spouse to negotiate over like you might negotiate over how to split your retirement accounts or other assets. This is difficult to navigate, because you and your spouse must fairly negotiate an agreement around how you intend to raise your child, and it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the child has needs and concerns of his or her own.
It essential that you avoid using your child as a pawn in your divorce. Not only is this unethical, your child will figure this out sooner or later, depending on his or her age and understanding of the process. Both for the sake of your child and for yourself, it is wise to commit to avoiding this behavior entirely, even if you are the only one.
Working with your spouse
In most cases, it is possible to reach fair agreements between parents, even if the relationship is quickly deteriorating. You may find that it helps convince your spouse to behave reasonably if you frame your concerns around the best interests of the child. It is usually best for all parties if the parents agree to cooperate with each other instead of waging a scorched-earth offensive.
This continues well after the divorce finalizes, in many cases. Although you and your spouse are no longer together, you are still coparents for the time being. For your own sake and for the sake of your child, avoid speaking poorly of the other parent in your child’s presence. Not only does this elevate your position overall, it helps you avoid accusations of parental time interference.
Your divorce does not have to sink your ship, practically or emotionally, and it does not have to destroy your child. With careful planning and loving attention, you can achieve the divorce you need while keeping your child’s needs protected throughout the divorce itself and for years to come.