Easing the impact of divorce for children (if it is possible)…

by Rod Smith

Help your child take up his or her life... despite your divorce.

Help your child take up his or her life... despite your divorce.

Pain is an inevitable result of almost all divorce and hardly anyone in a family escapes it. The enduring stress, the separation period preceding the divorce, the event itself, and the process of adjustment, all impact family members. When divorce is regarded as a process, and not an event, the impact is likely to be somewhat eased. Out of the ruins of a broken marriage people do not easily embrace such principles. These are goals to work toward. Doing so is likely to ease the impact of divorce upon the children. It is worthwhile noting that remaining married is often easier than becoming divorced. There will be times when being divorced (from a person) is more difficult than being married (to that same person). Assuming no sexual abuse or violence has occurred, the following attitudes expressed by both adults will allow for the best outcome when two adults divorce:
[The writer assumes the reader understands age and development appropriateness]

1. We will discuss the divorce with you, together, on a regular basis. We will not hold it as something vague or secretive.
2. We are divorced (are no longer husband and wife) but we remain your parents.
3. It is our divorce, not yours. The implications affect everybody, but it remains our divorce.
4. We were once happy as husband and wife and you were born out of our love. We found parenting to be rich and rewarding. (Ignore if not true).
5. We will always help and protect you and willingly cooperate with each other concerning you.
6. You have done nothing to cause our divorce and nothing you do will restore our marriage.
7. We will say nothing negative about each other, ever, anywhere, and to anyone. We will “hold our peace” with each other once the legal aspects of the divorce are over.
8. We will not use you as a go-between (message bearer, mail-carrier, anxiety lightening rod) between us.
9. When you face inevitable choices, we will clearly communicate with you about your options. When this is impossible, we will tell you why it is impossible.
10. When choices cannot be made easier, we will do all we can to make them clearer. You will always have as much choice as your age can accommodate.
11. We will support each others values and rules and will try to establish a similar atmosphere in each home.
12. We want you to do well in life. Our failure at marriage does not mean you will failure at life (or marriage, or child-rearing, or school, or politics, or staying sober).
13. We cannot predict the future, but we will both talk about it with you as we see it developing. You will have as much information as possible about your family and about you.
14. You will have as much power over your life as is age appropriate.
15. You will be able to visit both extended families. Your extended family will be as helpful to you about our divorce as we are. They are also committed to speaking only well of each of your parents. (Ignore if untrue. Let this be a goal if it is untrue).
16. You have permission to embrace any person each parent might include in his or her life. Accepting and loving a stepparent some day, will not be regarded as disloyalty. You might even choose to call that person “mother” or “father” without resistance from either of your parents.
17. All the adults (step and biological parents) will regularly meet, all at one table, to discuss matters relating to you.
18. We will try to lessen the amount of travel between homes so that you might be as settled as possible.
19. Failure at any venture on your part is not because of the divorce. Many people have had divorced parents and have made successes of their lives. You can do the same.

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