Here’s a sobering statistic: Children whose parents get divorced are THREE times more likely to need counseling than kids whose parents stay together. At least, as long as there isn’t any physical or mental abuse going on in the house. But if you are getting a divorce, experts say you can help your kids cope by following these rules:
First: Don’t bad-mouth your ex. Allison Pescosolido is the founder of the Divorce Detox program. And she says that kids identify with both Mom and Dad, which means making negative comments will eventually damage your children’s self-esteem. And don’t share the details of your breakup with your kids. For example, spilling the beans about an affair will only make it harder for your child to trust their own future partner.
What else should divorced parents never do? Make their kids feel guilty for spending time with the other parent. Psychologist Dr. Terri Orbuch says a lot of parents, especially those who have to enforce daily rules, get irritated or resentful when they hear that their ex took the kids someplace fun, like the movies or an amusement park. But consider this: If your kids can’t talk about the tilt-a-whirl without upsetting you, what are the chances they’ll bring up tough issues like being bullied at school?
Finally: Never put your kids in the middle. Child psychologist Dr. Jerry Saffer says that most parents know not to grill their kids about the details of their ex’s life. But a lot of them think it’s perfectly fine to schedule visitations through their kids. But Dr. Saffer says that even something as simple as asking a child to deliver an alimony check makes them anxious. So regardless of how uncomfortable it is, find a way to deal with your ex one-on-one. Besides, being nice will make you a good role model for your kids and help them learn that it’s possible to be civil even under trying circumstances.