It’s not always possible to entirely shield children, but our attorneys are also sensitive to the fact that children don’t need to see everything either.
There are ways that you can be effective in both your divorce and child custody efforts that can minimize the emotional damage to your children.
First: be honest with your children. This does not mean giving them all the gory details. A child doesn’t need to know if her mother or father was unfaithful. What they do need to understand is that both parents still love and care for them and that there is nothing that they did that prompted or could have prevented this. Make sure that your words are tailored in an age-appropriate way.
Secondly: encourage your children to ask questions. Open the lines of communication, and make sure they know they can talk to you about the confusion and pain they are feeling.
Thirdly: keep your child aware of any life changes or upcoming events prior to the start. Children are remarkably resilient, but they tend to do better if there is structure and they know in advance how their routines and schedules may change.
Next: if your child does start acting out by misbehaving, address the feeling behind it first. They may be seeking attention or expressing anger and frustration. Certainly, you can understand this too. Counseling is usually not a bad idea for every child of divorce. This allows them a safe space to freely express their feelings, without fear that they may be breaching the loyalty of one parent or another.
If at all possible: try to work with your spouse to set some consistent rules. Not everything is going to be 100 percent equal, but again, structure will aid tremendously in helping kids to make a smooth transition.
And finally: if your former spouse is not acting in the best interest of your children, document it. Concerns about potential dangers (drug use, risky behavior, new boyfriends or girlfriends with criminal history) can be addressed in court.