Easing the impact of divorce on children….

by Rod Smith

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 (unhappily) married is often easier than becoming (happily) divorced.

Assuming no violence has occurred, the following attitudes expressed by the adults will allow for the best outcome when two adults divorce :

1. We will discuss the divorce with you, together, on a regular basis.
2. We are divorced but 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 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 not destroy each other (verbally or in any manner) but will rather choose to honor and respect each other.
8. We will not use you as a go-between your parents, or as the rope in a tug-of-war, or as a commodity for child-support.
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. We will honor and hear your voice in all choices pertaining to you and when and if it impossible to do so, we will let you know why. Hearing you (and each other) does not mean agreeing or giving you what you want. Divorce makes some things beyond the control of even the most loving and reasonable and powerful people.
11. We will support each others’ values and rules and will try to establish a similar atmosphere in each home.
12. We both want you to do well in life. Our failure at marriage does not mean you will fail at life.
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 yourself.
14. You will have as much power over your life as is age appropriate. Sometimes the divorce will feel more powerful than each of us alone and all of us together.
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).
16. You have permission to embrace any person each parent might include in his or her life. Accepting and loving a stepparent will not be regarded as disloyalty. You might even choose to call that person mother or father without our resistance.
17. All the adults (step and biological parents) will regularly meet 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.

(One person commented: “If I we could have done all that we’d still be married.” I repeat, these are goals, broad ideas for which to strive to make into a reality.)

One Comment to “Easing the impact of divorce on children….”

  1. And what do you do when there was violence and abuse? How do you protect your child when the ex bad mouth you because you forgot to pack something for the weekend?

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