We all know that divorce is a challenging process for all parties involved, but it can an especially difficult experience for children. Watching parents separate is hard, and the unknown future ahead of them after divorce can leave them feeling nervous and anxious. Of course, we know that children survive their parents’ divorces all of the time, and many of them go on to have healthier relationships with their parents post-divorce. You can build a strong relationship with your children post-divorce by allowing them to love their co-parent—your ex—without guilt. This means not putting your children in the middle of any of your divorce drama and allowing them to openly express their love for both of their parents.
Children often find themselves in the uncomfortable situation of being stuck between their two angry parents. It can be tempting to vent about an ex, especially during or immediately after a divorce when tensions are high, but doing so in front of your children leaves them in a tough position. Your children love both you and your ex, and should not have to hear you badmouth each other or detail the marital problems you endured. When around your children, keep things positive. No, you do not need to shower your ex with praise, but you do need to respect that your ex is your child’s parent, and allow your children the chance to love you both equally. All too often, children end up siding with one parent or the other, leading to years of work rebuilding relationships.
In addition to avoiding negativity about your ex, allow your children to openly praise their other parent in front of you. This can be difficult, especially if there is still raw emotions surrounding your separation, but children naturally want to discuss things going on in their lives. If you forbid them from talking about that time at the movie theater with dad, or at dinner with mom, you are repressing them. Eventually, they will close up and communication between you and your children will diminish. No healthy relationship can exist if communication is not present, so avoid discouraging or forbidding your children from bringing up your ex. Again, your ex is their parent too, so they should be allowed to express their love and affection for them without having to feel like they might “say the wrong thing.”
Keep in mind that just because your children express their love for your ex, it does not take away from the love they have for you. Parenting is not a competition, and competing over your children is a great way to alienate them. If you allow your children to express themselves freely at all times, you will find your relationship becoming healthier and stronger. Additionally, as they get older, they will likely come to respect you more for understanding that you put your feelings aside for their happiness.
Your children may also bring up negative feelings towards their other parent. Your role is to listen and be supportive, not to add in your feelings towards your ex. Children need to vent, so allow them to do so without bringing up your emotional baggage. Be supportive and offer solutions.
A Family Law Attorney Can Help
At Kezy & Associates, we understand that divorce is a delicate issue, especially when children are involved, and our team will work to ensure as smooth a process as possible for you and your family. Call us at 708-518-8200 to speak with an experienced Orland Park divorce attorney and learn more about the variety of divorce and family law solutions we offer.