How to Prevent Children from Choosing Sides When Parents Divorce
When parents’ divorce, the question of custody often becomes one of the trickiest aspects of the process. Although no one wants to put their kids in a difficult position, it’s easy for children to get caught between parents when it comes to a heated divorce proceeding. Nonetheless, it’s essential for your children’s emotional well-being that you don’t push them to choose a side (even subconsciously), and that you make the divorce process as easy as possible for them.
What Happens When Parents Divorce
Watching your parents go through a divorce can be extremely stressful for children of any age. However, if their parents try to use them as a pawn in the process, asking them to choose sides, the psychological impact increases significantly. Studies have shown that the rates of anxiety and depression in children whose parents are in conflict with each other is significantly greater than those of children with low-conflict co-parents. Growing up amidst parental conflict is not only stressful in its own right, but can impair the child’s self-image, and they may learn to model bad relationship skills.
Divorce Advice for Parents
Although some divorcing parents deliberately try to enlist their children in the conflict, most parents who end up putting their kids in a bad position do so without realizing it. Here are a few steps that you can take to prevent your kids from choosing sides during a divorce:
- Never Badmouth Your Ex. The quickest way to turn a child against a co-parent is to speak badly of them. It is important to not only avoid directly disparaging your ex, but to also avoid subtler expressions, such as negative body language.
- Don’t Tell Your Kids About the Court Proceedings. Court proceedings can often be messy and antagonistic. Your kids don’t need to know everything about what happens when parents divorce and, for their own well-being, they should be shielded from the legal proceedings as much as possible.
- Respect the Visitation Process. Don’t discourage your kids from enjoying their time with the other parent. It’s important that they feel comfortable sharing their experiences with you.
- Respect Everyone’s Boundaries. After the divorce, each spouse’s approach to parenting will be a little different. Respect the fact that your ex does things in their own way, and don’t try to turn your kids against them.
What Happens When Kids Have Already Chosen Sides
Despite your best efforts, sometimes kids end up siding with one parent over another anyway. If you are not the parent they have sided with, this can be a very difficult situation to accept, and can lead to resentment—both against your kids and your ex. Nonetheless, it is important to come to a measure of acceptance about the situation, and not take anything out on your children or treat them any differently. Divorce is a confusing process for children, and just because they are siding with one parent now doesn’t mean that will always be the case.
Going through a divorce as a parent is always a tricky process, and requires a delicate touch. Hiring an experienced attorney who is familiar with the complexities of a family divorce is essential to achieving a successful result.
At Lazor Rantas, PC, we know what it’s like when parents divorce, and how difficult it can be for a family. We have decades of experiencing guiding our clients through the process and helping them achieve the best possible outcome, both for themselves and their children. Give us a call at 973-457-8844 or fill out the contact form below to get started.
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