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5 Tips on How to Treat Children While Going Through a Divorce


With the holidays and 2012 in the rearview mirror, many of us have set resolutions and goals for ourselves for 2013 in the interests of happiness and personal development. For some, the attainment of those objectives involves the dissolution of their marriage.

However, with an eye on a brighter future and the fair distribution of marital assets the future of the most precious and valuable marital asset is often treated the most poorly: the children.

As a trained divorce mediator and divorce attorney for over thirty years, I’ve found that minor children are the subject of serious contention and are often used as pawns in the marital conflict which always negatively affects the child’s well being and emotional maturation process.

Here are five guidelines for parents to consider in regard to the treatment of their minor children when going through a divorce proceeding.

  • Consult a therapist or trained mediator to discuss the best, most age-appropriate way to break the news of divorce to your children. This therapist should be an objective, non-partisan third party concerned only for the emotional well-being of his or her clients’ children.
  • Inform your children together as a united front so they know each parent has an equal part in the dissolution of the marriage (details are not necessary) and know that it’s okay for both parents to be loved and respected. This also assists in letting the children know that it’s about you and not about them.
  • Be respectful when speaking about your former spouse to your children. This keeps your children out of the line of fire and on the sidelines with much of their childhood intact.
  • Protect your children, keeping your parental role. The children don’t need to be spoken to like a coworker, friend, or your local bartender when it comes to talking about your divorce. They don’t need to know who’s getting to keep the toaster or the intricacies of the dissatisfying sex life you had with your former spouse.
  • Ask yourself, “Am I acting out of hurt or am I acting in the best interests of my children?” Does the custody and control you seek reflect your need to show your former spouse who’s boss or is it truly in the best interests of your children? Long drawn out custody battles can be emotionally exhausting for you and the children and can cause the waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be going toward your child’s college fund.

Children do not deserve to become pieces of ammunition during a divorce. By allowing them to be impartial observers; you’re giving them the chance at not only a childhood, but a well-adjusted adulthood.