Suggested Guidelines for Parents During Separation or Divorce

The following suggestions are made to help you and your children throughout the divorce process and beyond:

  1. In order to ensure the emotional and mental well-being of your children, it is essential to prioritize their needs and put their well-being before your own emotions.  This may be very difficult but try as hard as you can to put your children before your own emotions.  If there is a time you are unable to keep your composure, take a break, walk outside, call a friend, or write in a journal, whatever helps you keep your emotions at bay. 
  2. Try as best as you can to maintain your composure and sense of humor.  Remember, it is not the end of the world. Laugh when you can.  Enjoy your children. What your children see in your attitude is often reflected in theirs.
  3. Remember to give yourself and your children adequate time to adjust to the changes.  Change is often scary and confusing.  Recognize and accept this. 
  4. Reflect on the positive aspects of your marriage and share them with your children. Let them know that they can talk about the other parent and don’t need to be afraid to talk about good memories or things they may enjoy with the other parent.
  5. Assure your children they are not to blame for the breakup and make sure they understand they are not rejected or abandoned.  Young children especially may think they have done something wrong or are the result of their own thoughts or feelings.  Explain to them that there are other families and children whose parents have been divorced and they are not going to lose either of their parents. 
  6. Avoid voicing criticisms of the other parent, and do not force the children to take sides.  Ongoing anger and bitterness toward your spouse can injure your children far more than the divorce itself. It may be difficult, but absolutely necessary for a child’s healthy development. 
  7. Acknowledge that marriage breakdown is difficult for children and provide them with a direct, simple explanation in an age-appropriate manner.  Do not share details with them about the divorce or what is going on. 
  8. Do not allow guilt to interfere with disciplining the children.  Children need consistency, guidance, and boundaries.  They also need and want to know the expectations of them.  Do not forget to be the parent. 
  9. It is essential to recognize that you are only human and mistakes can be made.  If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and resolve to improve.
  10. Shield the children from the negative impacts of parental conflict and establish guidelines for discussions. If a conversation becomes uncomfortable with the other parent, instead of allowing it to become an argument, calmly state your discomfort and end the discussion.  Both parents should understand this and not attempt to force the other into an argument.  Recognize that everyone needs a time-out.  The parent terminating the discussion should contact the other parent within 48 hours to continue the discussion or at least let them know when they will be ready to continue. 
  11. Be sure to read and reread these guidelines.  Write them down and add your own positive approaches.

Contact an Experienced St. Louis Attorney Today

Child custody and support matters are complex, as they directly impact your children’s well-being. At Family Ally, we are here to help you make informed decisions and guide you through the legal process.