As we have discussed earlier this week-- Parenting is a lifelong job and you don't divorce your kids when going through a marital divorce. How do you safeguard your children while going through something potentially messy?
Spare your children the exposure to fighting.
This means, they should never hear disagreements between the parents. Remember... kids are GREAT at picking up on things and experts at "listening in" on conversations that you might not think they are hearing. Make sure that if you are having a disagreement, the children aren't in the home. Take it outside or wait until they are not present.
Don't make your kids take sides between parents, and never make them a "go between" in a disagreement. If you have something to say to the other parent, do it yourself (see above).
Don't ask them a million questions when they get home from the other parents house. If you really need to know something, pick up the phone and ask your ex-spouse yourself.
While going through a divorce, one of the most important things you can do for your children is TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! This doesn't mean you do this at the expense of taking care of your kids, but they need to know that you are their strength and that they will be okay. This doesn't mean that they never see you sad, but keep this within reasonable limits. You don't want them to be in the role of the parent where they are consoling you, and your children should never be your "confidant". Taking care of yourself means eating well, trying to get enough sleep, exercising, not isolating yourself and having a good support system.
If you feel overwhelmed by the divorce process, or recognize that you are struggling with depression, anxiety or day to day coping, contact a professional therapist or a divorce support group. There are so many resources out there to help you in the process and to realize that you are not alone!
Adapted from David John Berndt, Ph. D., www.divorcesource.com
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.