DON'T Lie to your children with stories like "Dad is
visiting relatives". Children know if you are trying to hide something,
even if the purpose is honorable.
DO talk to your children. Give them simple and
straight-forward answers without vilifying or
blaming the other parent.
DON'T put your children in the middle. That means don't ask them
where they want to live or who they want to live with.
DO explain to your children that the divorce is not their
fault. This message is best given by both parents together. Children naturally
assume they are responsible for the divorce.
DON'T use children to relay messages to the other spouse, even
messages related to visitation. Children need two parents even if the parents
don't see eye to eye or have different philosophies of child rearing. Placing
children in the middle tears those relationships causing children to withdraw
or become depressed.
DO seek counseling for your children if they are having a
difficult time adjusting. Counseling is most effective when both parents are
supportive and individually involved.
DON'T interrogate your children when they return from visitation
with the other parent. Questions like "what did he feed you" or
"who is mommy seeing" pressures children to take sides. This pressure
may result in depression, anger, falling grades, and disobedience.
DO listen to your children as they express concerns over the
DON'T make visitation or custody arrangements directly with the
children without first consulting the other parent. If there are conflicting
plans, this places the other parent in the role of the "bad guy",
having to say "no" to a child's expectations.
DO be flexible in your parenting schedule. Schedules serve a
purpose, but when they are used as rigid structures to control access time with
children, they serve as a flash point for conflict. When that happens, children
blame themselves for the parental dispute.
Submitted by: Maury D. Beaulier *
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