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Things you don't want to do when talking to kids about divorce

If there were a full-proof secret to successful parenting, every parent in California and across the globe would likely want to buy into it. The reality is that not only is there no guarantee that you will navigate your parenting journey without problems arising, there's actually a greater chance that challenge and struggle may be par for the course. Every family has its ups and downs. Certain situations weigh more heavily on the downsides, such as divorce. 

If you are headed for divorce and are wondering what you can do to help your children fare as well as possible as they adapt to a new lifestyle, you can start by learning more about what types of things you should avoid. In short, what you don't do is just as important as the proactive steps you take to show your kids support during this disruptive time in their lives. Your community no doubt has many resources to help you over the rough spots as well. 

Things that do more harm than good 

Especially if you and your spouse are parting on less-than-friendly terms, it can be tempting to vent your frustration within earshot of your kids. In fact, you may even feel compelled to let them know what their other parent has done to upset you so much. The following points show why this is generally not a good idea: 

  • Children love both their parents and can feel very confused or conflicted as to where their loyalties should lie if one parent constantly bad-mouths the other in their presence. You may be justified in your anger; however, that doesn't mean you should share the intimate details of your frustration with your kids. Adult matters are best left between adults.  
  • Trust is a major issue at all times in a family's life together. Now, more than ever, your children need to know that you mean what you say and that they can rely on you to be truthful with them. Avoid making promises you know you won't be able to keep, such as telling them they can see their other parent any time they want or that daily life is going to be the same as it's always been.  
  • While there's no harm in giving your children gifts, and in fact, offering them a small token as a sign of your support and encouragement during your transition to a new lifestyle may be just what your kids need to keep their spirits up. However, trying to buy their loyalty or compensate for the disruption divorce is causing in their lives may do more harm than good. 
  • It's never a good idea to use your kids to get back at your spouse. Especially if you have an existing court order that includes custody or visitation specifications, you cannot withhold your children from their other parent and you may face contempt of court charges. 

On the upside, taking proactive measures to spend lots of quality time with your children and letting them know they can share their feelings with you at any time points everyone in the right direction toward an emotionally healthy post-divorce lifestyle. It's best to take one day at a time, and to stay updated on any laws or regulations that affect your particular situation. If a problem arises, know where to turn for guidance.

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