How to 'do divorce' with kids

As a busy Texas parent, you likely spend a lot of time shuttling your kids to and from school events, sports activities and social engagements. In fact, perhaps you have described yourself like others in the past by saying you feel more like a personal chauffeur than a parent. Driving here or there (and everywhere!) seems to be par for the course of modern day family life. That's why when you told your children you were getting divorced, you worried how they'd handle the added stress.

Before you mentioned your plans, you determined in your mind to reach out for support from others who have trod the path before you to seek ideas as to how you might help your kids come to terms with the changes your divorce will affect in their lives. Sometimes, just talking to a friend who has been there is enough; however, if a more serious issue arises, such as a legal disagreement with your former spouse, it may be best to seek experienced guidance before things get out of hand.

First things first: How to help your kids

As a good parent, you want what is best for your kids, especially when it comes to adapting to a new lifestyle following your divorce. The following list includes practical ideas that may be useful to you as you get your feet wet in these new waters for the first time:

  • Keep adult problems between adults: You may not have a problem with teaching your children that parents sometimes disagree and that can lead to arguments from time to time. However, there's a fine line between giving them dispute resolution tools in life and dumping your grownup problems on their shoulders. If you and your former spouse are having a disagreement (especially if it's about your kids) keep it out of their hearing distance.
  • Don't implore them to choose between you: Parents who try to get kids to choose one over the other are usually not helping their children, they are adding to their stress. Your kids love both of you, and they need to know you love them and that you do not blame them for your divorce.
  • Be willing to cooperate and compromise: The more your children see you and their other parent working hard to develop an amicable parenting plan that keeps their best interests at heart, the better. You are separate people, and you will likely have different parenting styles. That's okay as long as one parent does not try to create obstacles or otherwise impede the other parent's relationship with the children.

Life is full of changes, and children are generally quite adaptable so long as they have a strong support system and know they can freely express their emotions without fear of rejection. If both parents adhere to the court's approved parenting plan, things should go well. If a problem does arise, it's important to know your rights and where to turn for immediate legal assistance.

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