How Do I Protect My Children During Divorce?
Sometimes parents take the anger they feel towards their spouse and inappropriately communicate it to the children. If you foster this negative thinking on behalf of the child, eventually they will turn against the other parent. If that happens, you may have won the battle, but you have lost the war. Your child will ultimately show destructive signs and start to act out in an antagonistic manner. You will suffer and they will suffer in the future. However, there are several things parents can do to protect their children from conflict and reduce the harmful effects of long-term emotional damage during and after divorce.
Examples of right and wrong behavior as it regards to the children:
Tommy comes home from Dad’s house and immediately runs to Mom in tears and says “Daddy was so mean to me; he took away my electronics because I didn’t finish my homework.” Tommy goes further and says “I hate going to Dad’s house, I never want to have to go there again.” Tommy says “I don’t like my Dad, I don’t like his house and I don’t like his girlfriend they are always mean to me.”
The wrong response is:
“I understand Tommy, I know your dad is very mean to you and I understand why you don’t like his girlfriend. I hate that you have to go over there too. Your daddy was mean to me too, so I understand how you feel. Your Dad should have never taken your electronics away because you didn’t finish an assignment, that is mean. If I could, I would make it so that you never had to go over to your Dad’s again. I am sorry Tommy that you have to go there and be treated so poorly.”
The correct response is:
“Tommy, I understand that you didn’t like what your Dad did to punish you, however, your dad loves you and he is looking out for your best interest. If your Dad felt that the right decision was to take your electronics away, then I am sure it was the right decision. Just because your Dad punishes you or doesn’t do things the way you want him to do things, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love you. Of course, you need to go to your Dad’s. Anytime you are scheduled to go to your Dad’s you need to go and spend time with him because he loves you and he wants to be a part of your life. That is not a decision that you get to make, it is not up for debate. Your schedule with your Father and your schedule with me will always remain the same, even if you get mad at me or you get mad at Dad, it is not going to change no matter what. You have to respect your Father when you are with him and you need to respect his partner when you are with her.”
Even if you manifest some underlying fear that your spouse will give your child candy for dinner, won’t give them a bath, will make them sleep on a blanket on the floor, with fleas and dirt, as long as your child comes home in one piece and there are no obvious abrasions or bruises or lacerations which could only have been caused by abusive behavior of the other parent, continue to foster a respectful and beneficial environment for your child.
The results will be worth it in the end. You and your children will go on to start new lives and find the happiness you are searching for; your children will carry the wounds from the battle forever, give them a fighting chance at a peaceful future.