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But What About the Children?

//But What About the Children?

But What About the Children?

But What About the Children By Melissa Burns{3:36 minutes to read} One of the biggest concerns couples face when going through a separation or divorce is how it will impact their children. This concern can result in people staying in an unhappy marriage—sometimes for years. Working with couples in divorce mediation, I have observed that the decision to stay together “for the children” may be made with good intentions. However, many times, this decision does not work as expected or best serve the children. Here are some things to consider:

Children are observant.

Children know when their parents are unhappy. Parents staying in a marriage where they argue or act with hostility can be very stressful for children. Even parents who simply act indifferent toward their spouse send a negative message to the children. Following a separation, seeing that their parents are able to interact in a cordial manner can help children understand that their parents still care about each other, even though they no longer wish to remain married.

Children will take their cue from you.

Parents model all sorts of behavior for their children. Modeling a healthy relationship is important, so moving on from a relationship that is no longer healthy can help children to understand that relationships sometimes end, but that’s okay. It can be an opportunity for parents to show their children that they are still a team, whether or not they are still living together. Seeing this can help children adjust to the new parenting arrangement.

Children do well with consistency.

Even though things will change, having the same rules and a similar routine can help children adjust to a shared parenting plan.

Parents deserve to be happy, too.

Divorce is incredibly difficult and healing takes time. Seeing their parents persevere and eventually feel fulfilled, respected, and happy can have an incredibly positive impact on children. It teaches them to strive for these things in their own lives and that challenging events can be overcome.

Families come in all shapes and sizes.

Children today are quite accustomed to seeing different kinds of families:

  • Single parent;
  • Two parents; and
  • Sometimes more.

Any family arrangement where a child feels safe, loved, and cared for is an arrangement where that child can thrive. “Normal” is what parents make it.

Finally, it is important to recognize that children still love both parents.

Parents who honor the relationship between their children and their ex are truly putting the best interests of their children first. This includes allowing children to express their feelings about their parents, without judgement and guilt over these feelings.

The ending of their parents’ marriage is sad for children, but with support and modeling of good interactions, they can and do continue to thrive in their new family arrangement.

What behaviors do you model for your children in how you relate to your ex-spouse? Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments box below.

Melissa Burns

16 Pearl St., Suite 201
Glens Falls, NY 12801
Phone: (518) 529-5200

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2017-01-30T11:33:42+00:00 By |Children & Divorce|

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