It’s often the intention of the parents to put their children first. However, even good parents sometimes can use tips and tools to make sure they prioritize the needs of the children.
If you’re reading this article, you’re already a step ahead.
The most important thing to remember is that your children are half a part of you, and half a part of your spouse/other parent.
Any negative comments you make about the other parent inherently makes the child feel bad about themselves. It may be subconscious, but the child feels that half of themselves hurt when their other parent is criticized. This means at times encouraging your children to spend time with the other parent, even when they’d rather play with their friends or spend time with you. This means fostering the relationship of the child and other parent even when you’re upset with the other parent, or that parent is upset with you.
Do not use the children as messengers.
Do not discuss child support with the children. Let the children be children and that means not putting any type of burden on them to worry about adult things, such as child support and scheduling. If the child knows he/she is expected to follow the rules regarding the possession schedule, or disciplinary rules of the other parent, he/she will follow the rules. This falls in line with how a child is not allowed to decide what other rules in life he/she is to follow before reaching the age of majority. You may feel like you’re the only parent putting the children first, and even if that’s the case, continue to put the children first and the children will eventually know and appreciate you for protecting them.
It’s also important to recognize self-care and take care of yourself.
You need to be emotionally healthy to be the best parent you can be for your children. I often reference the flight attendant safety warning: if the oxygen masks drop due to a change in altitude, put your mask on first before taking care of the child. Likewise, if the flight attendants seem calm in a stressful situation, the passengers feel calmed. It’s the same for children, if their parents are ok, they know they will be ok.
The AAML has created a Children’s Bill of Rights for When Parents Are Not Together. It’s a quick list of tips to keep in mind to protect the children from the effects of divorce. Another quick list is 10 Tips for Divorce Parents.