Conflict between parents is the number one predictor for maladjustment in children.
Divorce, by its very nature, is a process of conflict. More specifically, it is an ADULT conflict. And it should remain that way. How the parties treat one another, and more importantly for your children, how they treat one another in front of their children, is key to surviving divorce in the healthiest way possible.
How you behave is critical to the emotional health and wellbeing of your child. The best interests of your children should always be paramount in making decisions in the divorce process. Actively limiting stress and conflict from the lives of your children takes work. You have to be diligent in your words and actions and aware of its effects on your children. Children hear you, even when you don’t think they do. At all times be aware of what you say and whether or not they can hear you or how they might interpret what you are saying. Never discuss your divorce case with children unless absolutely necessary for their own wellbeing. And most importantly, NEVER malign or complain about your soon to be ex-spouse in front of your children. Remember – they are one half you and one half them…they love you both. Anger and resentment that pours over to your children automatically puts them in a position of having to take sides. And taking sides is the epitome of conflict. Do your best to not let this happen.
Ultimately, children need to feel secure, they need to know that no matter what may be happening with mom and dad, they have a home, they will get up each morning and do the things they did before the divorce, they will be taken care of by parents who love them and will protect them. Things WILL change for them, clearly, but if they feel secure and safe and have an expectation of how their lives will proceed, they can be happy and well adjusted, even in the face of adult conflict.
Children look to their parents to figure out how to make sense of what is happening. They become reliant on their parents’ abilities to meet their needs, and this does not change because of a divorce. These circumstances should be managed in the same way the loss of oxygen would be on a plane. Put on your oxygen mask before securing your child’s. Act like an adult first and foremost. Your children's well being depends upon it.
Family law attorney James P. Sadler represents people involved in divorces, child custody disputes, and other family law matters in San Angelo and throughout West Texas. He advocates for his clients’ rights and interests both in the courtroom and at the negotiating table. We invite you to contact Sadler Family Law online or at (325) 227-6738 to schedule a confidential office consultation.