Six Little-Known Yet Powerful Ways To Reduce Emotional Harm To Your Children In Divorce Six Little-Known Yet Powerful Ways To Reduce Emotional Harm To Your Children In Divorce Six Little-Known Yet Powerful Ways To Reduce Emotional Harm To Your Children In Divorce Michele Hart Law

Date: February 4, 2019 | Author: Michele Hart

As a family lawyer for over 20 years and a former child of bitterly divorced parents, I can personally vouch for the emotional toll divorce can have on children.

And the wealth of research backs up the aspects of divorce that make it so difficult for children.

Below are 6 little-known yet powerful ways you can actively reduce emotional harm to your children in divorce:

1.          Don’t tell your child in anger “you’re just like your father” or “you’re just like your mother.”

Children tend to view their same-sex parent as role models.  Therefore, if you angrily accuse your child of being “just like” his father or her mother, he or she is likely to view it as rejection.

Likewise, your child may also go on to form unhealthy adult relationships by either acting out the negative attributes you ascribe or by remedying the “bad” trait of that parent.

For example, if you tell your son “you’re controlling just like your father,”  he might later become overly passive and acquiescing in his own adult relationships.

Children in divorce also tend to act similarly to the parent you deem them “just like,” by, for instance, being “controlling” towards you.

While this might be hurtful to you, it’s more likely your child is identifying with the other parent or replaying a familiar family structure.  It’s therefore important to investigate with your child what might be going on.

2.          Don’t have your child act as a “go-between” with your ex.

If you constantly ask your child for information about your ex or try to get your child on your “side”, your child can feel trapped in the middle.

And it’s important for children in divorce to have positive relationships with both parents to get them through this difficult time.

3.          Don’t put down your spouse’s significant other to your child.

Chances are, your child already feels in competition with your ex’s significant other.  Specifically, daughters tend to want to remain the “apple of Dad’s eye.”

Therefore, if you often refer negatively to your spouse’s significant other, by, for instance, calling her a “homewrecker,” your child is likely to try and steal away her parent’s attention that much more.

This can seriously jeopardize your child’s relationship with the other parent and cause her self-confidence to suffer.   And again, children in divorce need to develop healthy and positive relationships with both parents.

4.          Don’t parent from a place of guilt.

Trying to “make it up” to your child for a divorce is a fallacy.

Your children need a parent who can give them stability and guidance to get them through what can be an emotionally difficult transition.  They will look to you as their role model for handling conflict and change.

5.          Encourage your children to seek out their own friends and interests.

Children of divorcing parents often tend to want to protect their parents from loneliness and sadness. For example, your child might be inclined to stay home with you rather than go out with friends.

If this becomes a pattern, it could lead to your child’s inability to develop his or her own interests or to form essential healthy and supportive friendships.

6.          Encourage your child to spend time with your ex.

Especially as your children become adolescents, they tend to become more curious about the parent they were separated from.

It’s very important for your children to experience the other parent’s lifestyle and ways of parenting.

It also helps your children navigate conflict while broadening their personal experiences.

By the same token, by spending more time with the other parent, children are able to form much-needed relationships with both of you in a divorce.

Difficult though it can be when going through your own emotional pain in divorce, by simply being aware of what your children might experience in divorce, you can actively minimize any potentially harmful effects on them.

I’m not saying it will be easy, but it will be well worth it to see smiles on your children’s faces.

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