Children & Divorce
When parents decide to divorce, their number one concern should be the wellbeing of their children. Remember this! If you feel a certain kind of a way about your spouse, your children have the right to be loved by both parents. They did not ask for this but this can be a great opportunity to model healthy co-parenting and helping them thrive even after divorce. If you are a child of divorce yourself, you can break the generational legacy.
Through mediation, I’ve assisted hundreds of parents come up with plans that are NOT static, that take into account children’s developmental needs, family’s work schedules, extra-curricular activities, holiday traditions, financial situation etc. I had parents who negotiated anything from a more pre-defined parenting schedule, to a more flexible schedule and even “nesting arrangements” where parents would take turn in the marital residence with their children.
One of the toughest things is figuring out how to break your news to your children. Here are some helpful tips:
1) Always tell them together. Keep the conversation age appropriate, spare them from ‘ugly details’ and do not engage in blaming and “throwing each other under the bus”.
2) Explain that it is NOT their fault.
3) Assure them that all feelings are acceptable.
4) Children thrive on predictability and routines give them comfort. They want to know that they will have access to their friends, extended family, and school. So explain to them what it means day to day as best as you can.
The Children’s Bill of Rights
As I work with parents to form strong co-parenting plans, I often refer to this wonderful document called the Children’s Bill of Rights. While it’s not legally binding, it’s a great way to ensure that both parents remember that their children should be their main concern.
Some of my favorite “inalienable” rights are:
- We the children of the divorcing parents, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish these Bill Of Rights for all children.
- The right not to be asked to "choose sides".
- The right to be treated as a person and not as a pawn, possession or a negotiating chip.
- The right to freely and privately communicate with both parents.
- The right not to be asked questions by one parent about the other.
- The right not to be a messenger.
- The right to express my feelings.
- The right to love and have a relationship with both parents.
- The right not to hear either parent say anything bad about the other.
- The right to maintain my status as a child and not to take on adult responsibilities.
- The right to expect healthy relationship modeling