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Parenting You Kids Through Your Divorce

Nov 20, 2007
Very few people go into marriage and begin raising a family thinking that they will divorce, but the reality of US family life in the 21st century is that the majority of marriages end in divorce.

And for divorcing couples with children, the children all too often end up in the middle of their parents' power struggle.

Too many couples let their negative feelings towards each other influence their parenting at the very time when their children need them most, using children as weapons in a custody battle, or trying to win their favor by verbally trashing the other parent.

Children facing divorce are already facing a possible change in their financial circumstances, the likelihood that they will be seeing one of their parents only at intervals, and that the activities which they enjoyed with that parent will be happening much less often.

No one expects a couple to go though a divorce without conflict, but one of their jobs as parents is to manage their conflict in a responsible way so that its effect on their children is minimized.

Even if they agree on nothing else, divorcing parents can attempt to develop a shared parenting style which eases their children's transition into their post-divorce life.

As soon as you know that divorce is in your future, you can begin preparing for its effect on your children by taking a class on parenting and divorce, and how to avoid putting your children in the middle of the conflict.

Your local family services agency will have information about local classes. You can also look for some of the many excellent age-appropriate books on divorce which you can read to and discuss with your children.

You and your spouse should have an adult conversation and come to an agreement about how you intend to share time with the kids. Make sure your spouse knows that the time you spend with the kids is very important to you, and that you know his or her time with them is equally important.

Devise a fair and workable schedule as early into the separation as you can, and stick to it. Your children will need consistency from you now more than ever.

Find positive things to say about your kids' next visit with their other parent; let them feel good about leaving you even if you don't feel good about it. When you drop your kids off, or they are picked up, be pleasant with your ex and leave your mutual problems for a private discussion.

If your child is having difficulty with the other parent, listen to what he or she is telling you, and do not intervene unless you think abuse is a real possibility. Let your kids learn to deal directly with their other parent.

If one of you has to change plans for a schedule visit for unavoidable reasons, let the other know in plenty of time, and try to remain open to switching visiting times occasionally to help each other out.

And never, ever use your kids as surrogate spouses, confiding in them inappropriately; and do not ask them to break a confidence which they have with your ex, or to be a go-between for the two of you when you are too angry to talk directly with each other.
About the Author
Author: Matt Garrett 2007 www.PositiveParentingHandbook.com Get your Free 12 Part Ecourse on Positive Parenting for Raising Healthy, Happy and Smart Kids What Makes a Good Parent
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