Heart & Mind:  Children & Divorce

FOR THE KIDS SAKE

By Vicki Lansky

Whatever your differences may be, can you and your spouse agree that you don't want to hurt your children? Will you and your spouse work together to make the process as easy as possible for them?

When the decision has been made to separate, even the most caring parents are not totally rational. It's hard to be supportive and available to your children's emotional needs at this time. 

Don't be too hard on yourself if you make some mistakes. Genuine consideration and concern will make up for the rough spots.

It's important that you and your spouse thoroughly review what will be said to the children beforehand, if at all possible. Prepare for this meeting very carefully. 

  • To reduce the children's anxiety, give them only enough information to explain the situation; try not to overburden them with details.
  • Consider your children's ages and developmental stages. 
  • Discuss with each other the importance of keeping the children out of your legal and financial differences. 
  • Try to reach agreement with each other on as many things as possible before approaching the kids.

Even though one parent has rejected your life together, this doesn't mean that either he or she is not a good or capable parent. In other words, if your spouse has ended your marriage, that is not a reason for you to end or limit his or her parenting role.

Of the following list of considerations, a discussion of the parenting arrangements is the most important. It is vital to come to a general understanding about how you wish to handle your children's living arrangements and your parenting time. 

Your unofficial temporary custodial schedule will also lay the ground rules for your future arrangements. Separation is a temporary but significant period that is a legal no-man's land-a time of informal arrangements. Think through your plans as clearly as is possible. 

From the beginning of your separation period, before the divorce is final, you and your spouse can experiment with different living arrangements, testing, so to speak, "the custodial waters." 

Discuss the fact that you will both remain open to changes to any initial arrangement but not to such a degree that it may confuse the children.

Child-Related Considerations

  • When will we tell the children?
  • Will we tell them together?
  • What will we tell them?
  • Who will tell them what?
  • How should time with the children be shared?
  • How should the holidays be handled?
  • How do we handle religious education?
  • Who will be a primary caretaker?
  • Where will the children live?
  • Where will the other parent live?
  • When will the departing parent move out?
  • How will continuing contact with the children be handled?

Excerpted from : Vicki Lansky's Divorce Book for Parents


This Article For The Kids Sake was written by Vicki Lansky