We’ve seen various “Top 10 or Top 5” lists educating parents either contemplating or going through divorce about mistakes they can make going through the process. There is one element that permeates through each item on any list: using your children in any way to sabotage their relationship with the other parent or get information from them about your ex. This type of mistake manifests itself in many different ways:
- You may lean on your child because you are lonely and drag your child down with your own emotional baggage.
- You may try to prove to your child that you were wronged by your ex.
- You may try to give your child more toys, personal items, trips, special treats, etc. to win them over because of guilt or jealousy.
- You may try to pry for information about the goings-on of your ex from your child.
These are such common mistakes among divorcing parents that the Missouri legislature has required that parents attend a parenting course concerning the effects of divorce on minor children. See 452.600, RSMo.
These types of mistakes can be costly in your divorce if child custody/visitation is an issue, but more importantly, it can be damaging to your children. Avoid these mistakes by:
- Not speaking ill of your ex in front of your children.
- Prevent your children from speaking bad about or disrespecting your ex.
- When in front of your children, avoid disagreements and act amicably.
- Keep your spouse informed as to your children’s activities and development.
- Communicate with your ex so that you can negotiate and establish schedules, transfers, boundaries, etc.
In short, it is in the best interest of your children to maintain the peace with your ex. It may be easier said than done at times, but it will pay dividends in your child’s emotional development and relationship with both you and the other parent in their life. Open and positive communication will help your family move on from this difficult time in a positive manner.