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Avoid making your children choose sides in a divorce

Your behavior during a divorce can have a direct impact on how your children handle the situation. You have to think about what's best for them and their needs as you work through these matters. It can be hard to remember this sometimes when things are getting heated and you feel like you are trapped in a never-ending battle.

One thing that you have to think about is that your children didn't ask for this major life upheaval, but they do have to deal with the impacts of it. The sooner you can provide them with the stability that they need, the better they might fare. Your goal should be to work out a parenting plan that puts them first.

Watch what you say

Your children don't need to think that they have to choose between parents. They shouldn't hear either parent, or other adults, deprecating a parent. Set the ground rules early for this so that they aren't faced with either. Another thing to remember is that you and your ex need to speak directly to each other about all parenting matters. Never send messages through the children or try to have them get in the middle of disagreements. Handling things privately keeps conflict away from the kids and can help them to feel more stable.

Present a united parenting front

Having two parents who are working as a team can help the children to thrive. This also reduces that chance that they will try to play one parent against the other. Try to work with your ex about the important rules for the children. Things like daily reading or study time, bedtime and curfew can be discussed and put in place across both homes.

Speak with the children

Instead of having one discussion with Dad and one with Mom, your children will likely fare better if both adults talk to them at the same time. This lets everyone get on the same page and sends them a message that even through the divorce and after, their parents are going to be there for them. This is a good time to remind them that they aren't responsible for the divorce.

Encourage important relationships

One concern that they might have during this transition is that they won't be able to have relationships that are important to them. Remind them that they can have a meaningful relationship with both parents, as well as individuals on both sides of the family. They need to know that you encourage this and that you don't mind hearing about them.

The parenting plan that you and your ex work out is the cornerstone of the situation. Working out the details with your child's best interests in mind benefits everyone involved.

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