How to Prepare for a Child-Centered Divorce
We often get asked by divorcing parents, “How will our divorce affect our kids?” This is such a powerful question. Our Family Forward is based on the belief that how parents choose to move forward during and after their divorce will profoundly shape the outcome for themselves and their children. We encourage parents right away to focus on the future they want with and for their children.
We know that divorce is a major stressor for everyone involved as a family restructures to living in two households instead of one. It is a time of crisis for all family members, as changes are made and losses are felt, but it does not have to become a lasting trauma for children.
When we meet with divorcing parents we ask, “Down the road, what is the story you want your children to tell about your divorce?” You have control over many aspects of this story. Behaving with courtesy and respect toward each other during and after your divorce will have a lasting, positive impact on your children. This becomes the cornerstone of effective co-parenting.
Children do best during and after a divorce when they are never asked to take sides between their parents, when parents can work as a team on their children’s behalf and when children are not exposed to parental conflict. We believe children should be kept at the center and out of the middle.
But this is hard work, so it’s important to take care of your own emotional needs. It’s only human to feel the urge to lash out at your spouse or partner during a divorce, especially if you feel hurt or betrayed by the many losses you now must experience. If this happens in the presence of your children, it will hurt them. We encourage you as soon as possible to get the emotional support you need and deserve from other trusted adults who honor and respect your wish to protect and nurture your children during the divorce. This will help provide you with resources and strength to stay as centered as possible while grieving and working through the strong feelings that arise during a divorce. The added benefit is creating safety for your children.