Although divorce is a sad ending to a marriage that began in love, divorce does not have to be damaging to children. Here are the ten most important things parents can do to help their kids navigate the stormy seas of divorcing parents.
1. Don't try to recruit your child into siding with one parent against the other.
2. Do contain your hostility in front of the children. Hearing divorcing parents argue is the most common cause for a child of divorce to have problems.
3. Do renegotiate a healthy co-parenting relationship after divorce. You don't have to be best friends with your ex, but you do need to have a civilized relationship so that your child is not burdened by your ongoing anger.
4. Don't badmouth your ex in front of your child. In fact, make a point of telling your child a few good things about the other parent.
5. Do get on the same page with your ex about all rules concerning the children--bedtime, homework, amount of screen time, curfew, and so forth.
6. Do take a parenting class or attend family therapy with your ex if you are having trouble coming to agreement about rules and consequences for your child. Allow a professional to help you manage your anger at your ex.
7. Don't badmouth your ex's parents or other family members. Children love their grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and if a parent says negative things about them the child will feel conflicted.
8. Do reassure your child that she did not do anything to cause the divorce. Children often feel guilty when parents get divorced and need to be reassured that the divorce was not their fault.
9. Do tell your child that both parents will continue to love him and spend time with him.
10. Do tell your child that you expect them to continue to do well and be happy.