Although a divorce is sad and unfortunate by any right, when there are kids involved, it becomes devastating. In addition to the husband and wife being hurt along with family and friends, the kids are the innocent bystanders who become stuck in the middle. Some families will go through a divorce being civil but we see most divorces with screaming, yelling, throwing things, slamming doors, and so on, all while the children sit there and watch.
Divorce has a huge impact on children regardless of age and regardless of the severity of the divorce. These children are losing their stability, their security, their lifestyle, and most often, their home. In some cases, the kids are uprooted and moved to a new home where they have to make new friends, start a new school, and try to rebuild their lives too although they did nothing wrong. Then, you add in the equation that they no longer see one parent as often, you can only imagine how hard it is.
If you are going through a divorce, both parents need to put their differences aside and show the kids, unconditional love, and support. These kids need to know that they did not do anything wrong and they are not to blame for the divorce. If the children are small, they will not understand, as an older child would. However, no matter the ages of the children, they need to have access to the non-custodial parent. Unless there is abuse in the mix, both parents should continue spending quality time with the children.
To give you an idea, one couple chose for the father, who was the non-custodial parent to have the children Friday night through Sunday afternoon the first three weeks of the months and then for two full weeks during the summer. For holidays, the parents swapped every other year. For instance, the first year, the mother had Christmas while the father had New Years, the mother had Valentine's Day while the father had Easter, and the mother had the Fourth of July while the father had Memorial Day. The next year, they changed.
The judge in this case commended the parents for putting their divorce to the side to create a schedule that gave the children adequate time with both parents and sides of the family. The result of this particular divorce was two well-adjusted kids who were happy. Both children did very well in school, had friends at both houses, and grew into great adults who went on to have happy marriages themselves.
The key to handling children after divorce is for the parents to act like human beings. If there needs to be a discussion that might get heated, then the mom and dad should have it away from the child so the child is not subjected to the harshness of the conversation. When the two parents are in the same room with the children, they should be polite, not smart remarks. Does this take discipline? Yes, it can but it is all about putting the children first.
In other words, divorced moms and dads need to act like adults, reminding themselves that the children are innocent. Now, another consideration is that each child will handle the divorce differently. One child may breeze right through while another child may begin to have behavioral or social issues. For this, both parents need to work together to help the child adjust. This means mom and dad sitting down with the child who is struggling and talking about it as a "family". After all, in the child's mind, you and your spouse are still mom and dad, or family.
Sometimes, you will find a child learning great manipulation skills during and after a divorce, playing one parent off the other. Again, parents need to communication even though they are no longer married. In the same case of the couple divorced above, when they ran into situations like this, they talked to each other before addressing the child. In other words, even though they were divorced, they worked as a team, not for the marriage but for the children.
Getting to this point is not easy and it will not happen overnight. In most cases, a tremendous amount of anger, disappointment, and hurt are involved, which are hard just to push aside but counseling can help divorced parents do just that. It all comes down to determining the most important thing in your life, which should be the children.
You love your children and want the best for them. Because of this, you have to be tough by not allowing the divorce to damage them. You can do this and it has been done by many people. Just keep trying. If you make a mistake, try again until the two of you get it right. You too can have happy and well-adjusted children without all the animosity of divorce.