2016 may have gone down in history as one of the worst years ever, but if you’ve entered 2017 with a divorce on the horizon, the chances are this year doesn’t seem any better right now. Perhaps your divorce is already underway and you’re dividing assets and laying out child care arrangements with the help of your London divorce lawyers. Or if you’re still in the processing stage, you might be still working through the legal 500 family law website, looking for the best divorce lawyers in town.
Whatever stage you’re at, if you have children, they shouldn’t be overlooked in the divorce process. As adults and their parents, it’s your responsibility to stay strong and handle their place in your divorce responsibly. With this in mind, taking a realistic look at your behaviour will help you manage your divorce in a way which puts the needs of your children first. Here are some key questions to ask yourself.
Am I Badmouthing My Ex In Front of the Children?
It doesn’t matter what your former partner has done; to your children, they’re a parent first and foremost. While you may want them out of your life, if they’re a loving parent, it’s the responsibility of both of you to keep whatever went on between the two of you out of the parent-child relationship.
Whether you’re actively trying to or not, you may be behaving in a way that’s causing and encouraging parental alienation syndrome in your children. It’s natural to feel a lot of hurt and anger towards your ex-husband or ex-wife, but this is what a good therapist and a legal 500 family lawyer are for. Unburdening your feelings of anger, resentment and betrayal on your children isn’t something that they will understand; you can cause permanent damage to their relationship with the other parent.
Am I Taking Time to Explain Things Properly?
Depending on what developmental stage your child is at, they’ll need different explanations of a divorce. The most important thing your child needs to know is that the divorce isn’t their fault and you both still love them. For a child, their world still very much revolves around their parents and what happens to them. Knowing that they’re still loved and cared for, and that their parents just won’t be living in the same house anymore, is the most important factor.
For your child, who left who and who’s keeping the CD collection is inconsequential. As much as it may pain you, taking the time to be civil when you’re around your ex, so as not to distress your child or encourage negative behaviour in them, is invaluable.
One of the most common long-term issues in children of divorce is a fear of abandonment. “If daddy left mummy, will daddy leave me?” is an understandable mind-set for a child to take on, but you have to quell their worries. It’s important for your children to understand that all that’s changed is where mummy and daddy live. If your child has questions, take time to answer them as honestly as possible, steering clear of blame and negativity towards your ex.
Am I Taking Advice From My London Divorce Lawyers?
Looking after yourself during a divorce is vital if you’re going to have the strength to look after your children. Crucial ways to be mindful of your child’s situation, such as not fighting in front of them, include having the emotional strength to keep a cool head. The best divorce lawyers in London will be able to advise you on things such as asset division and child care arrangements, hopefully taking some of the stress out of your situation.
A therapist will help you talk through the emotional side of your divorce, so you don’t overburden your friends and family by getting into a cycle of blame. Looking after yourself means not only taking time for you, but taking advice from your divorce lawyer so that, at the end of the day, you have the headspace to be a good parent and help your child through this difficult time.
Am I Allowing My Child To Express Their Emotions?
While it’s not okay for you to shout and scream in front of your child, this doesn’t work both ways. This is an emotional time and it’s normal that your children express their emotions. There are a number of things you can do to help your child learn that it’s okay to express emotion about your divorce. An important rule is not to sugarcoat the matter; don’t tell them things will be okay if they’re not. If they need to vent about their other parent, stay neutral: don’t criticize them, but also don’t cover up for them. Teach your child that their feelings are valid.
If the parent who no longer lives at home isn’t stepping up, encouraging your child to communicate his or her emotions is a great way to empower them in the situation. Teaching your child to talk to their other parent by saying things like “when we don’t see each other it makes me feel…” in a blame-free, yet strong way is fantastic for giving them some control in what can feel like an otherwise powerless situation. If their other parent keeps cancelling, talk to your London divorce lawyers about a child care arrangement schedule which will allow them to cancel less.
These may be tough questions to ask yourself, but being realistic with how you’re actually behaving will save both you and your children from an emotionally traumatic divorce. Giving your children as much help as they need to get them through their parents’ divorce will result in a healthier, happier future for both you and them.