I want to address the issue of putting the kids in the middle of a divorce tug of war. Don’t do it! It’s natural that when the other parent slings mud at you, puts you down to the children or tries to pull them over to their side, you want to defend yourself and “pull back.” But unfortunately, in the situation of divorce, that only hurts the children by putting them in the middle. Research shows that children who deal with parental conflict often see their sleep habits affected and have ongoing emotional issues. Instead, the better course is to:
– Get curious about the child’s feelings and point of view.
– Ask questions about the child’s perspective (NOT probing questions about the other parent).
– Teach the child to use critical thinking skills and draw their own conclusions.
– Reassure the child that the adults will take care of adult business and they do not have to worry about those issues or fix them. (By the way, “grown-up business” includes money issues, payment or nonpayment of support and fees, court proceedings, dating relationships, fault or “wrongdoing” in divorce — knowing about these issues often gives children all the worry and angst adults have but without any ability to fix things or make a difference. Involving children in adult issues “parentifies” them and that is damaging.)
ABOVE ALL, focus on making YOUR OWN TIME with your children as positive and valuable as possible. This does not mean being a Disney parent without rules or being a best friend. You still have to be a grown-up parent and do the hard things, but just parent as best you can when you can and remember to have fun too. That will plant a seed that blossoms into a better relationship than a landfill of trash talking could ever hope to accomplish.
Strangely enough, this IS legal advice. Colorado law requires you to act in your child’s best interests and also to foster a loving relationship between the child and the other parent. Judges are not afraid to get involved or even limit parenting time when one parent “doesn’t get it” or keeps dragging the children into a divorce tug of war.
Andersen Law PC: when I help you write a good parenting plan and act in your child’s best interest, I protect your family, your finances and your future.