Family counseling specialists and divorced parents agree: one of the most important goals for any divorce is to impact the children as little as possible. Whether your kids are toddlers or teenagers, they are vulnerable to what you say or do. While divorce often brings out the most emotional and painful issues people ever face, parents need to value their children’s health above all else.
Unfortunately, it is so easy to accidentally damage our children during a divorce. There’s one thing you need to do throughout the entire divorce process to protect your kids.
As a Parent, You Need to Stay on the Same Side as Your Spouse
The most common way parents hurt their kids is by bringing their petty grievances into their interaction with their children. When you’re first announcing that you’re splitting up, it is vital that you and your spouse present a united front. You have to be 100% sure that neither of you is blaming the other—either with your words, your body actions, or your facial expressions.
On a practical level, that means:
- No passive-aggressive phrasing
- No eye-rolling
- Rehearsing the conversation
- Supporting what your spouse says as long as it’s neutral
- Encouraging your children to continue relationships with both parents
- Announcing the divorce together
Under no circumstances should you blame the other parent for the divorce, even if you believe that’s true. Even if it is true. Why? Because regardless of how you feel about your spouse, kids need both parents in their lives. When you blame the other spouse for a bad situation, kids internalize your comments and will act accordingly. What you say in a moment of petty weakness will affect how your children think for decades, permanently damaging a vital relationship in their lives. That isn’t fair to them.
In addition, courts do not take kindly to parents who sabotage the other spouse’s relationship with their children. It is seen as destructive and could hurt your case during the child custody hearing. If you truly love and care for your kids, you’ll keep your feelings about your spouse to yourself.