The intense emotional impact of divorce often leaves parents filled with anger, hurt and the fear of losing connection with one’s children; in the battle that ensues, the children can become the pawns, suffering trauma that is greater than the breakup itself.
Researchers point out that children whose parents set aside their grievances and focus first and foremost on their children’s needs are able to adapt more quickly and with greater resiliency to the changes in their lives. The following strategies, gleaned from Bonnell and Little’s excellent Co-Parenting Handbook, will help ensure that children and co-parents thrive through, and beyond, the upheaval.
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- Come up with a shared script about why you are parting ways.
- Maintain the parent-child relationship, even in your shakiest and saddest moments.
- Remain the leader.
- Make sound decisions that consider first the well-being and interests of your children, not your own.
- Reassure and comfort them in words and actions.
- Inspire confidence and hope in the future.
- Recognize your child’s grief and focus on what you can control.
- Lower conflict and avoid ALL maligning of the other parent.
- Create a detailed and comprehensive parenting plan.
- Find ways to communicate with one another about your parenting arrangement without emotion.
- Create structure and discipline in home and daily life.
Parenting is not a competitive sport: Remove all competitive frames of reference from your thoughts and communications. Children of divorce thrive much better when they can get the best each parent has to give, without being forced to take sides.