1. I resolve to remind my child that they are loved.
2. I resolve to reassure my child often that divorce is not their fault.
3. I resolve to not let my child blame themselves for the divorce. Children often blame themselves and think if they were better kids, this wouldn’t be happening. There is no need to lie to your child in an effort to make them feel less responsible. However, one of the main reasons kids blame themselves is because they weren’t told the truth. That being said, do not go into gory details and explain in an age appropriate manner why you are divorcing. You should also be honest with your children that you will not be getting back together. They often think that if they behave better, are more fun, etc., their parents will get back together again internalizing the reason why the divorce is occurring.
4. I resolve to let my child to express their feelings no matter what. They may be sad, depressed, angry, or happy, but do not know how to express it. Encourage your child to express their feelings about the divorce. Let them be honest as to how they feel even if it hurts your feelings. Do not show your children that your feelings are hurt no matter what they say. This will be difficult. Try not to minimize your child’s pain and sadness. You cannot make it immediately better nor should you try. Offer your support and comfort by letting your child know you care about their feelings and that their feelings matter to you.
5. I resolve to respect my children. Respect the fact that no matter what the cause of your divorce, your child wants a relationship with both parents. Do your best to foster that relationship and encourage it. Your child is half of each of you and blaming or bashing your ex in front of your children will make them feel bad. Try not to engage in nasty argumentative behavior when your children are present. This makes your children sad, guilty, and defensive. Keep visible conflict away from your children. Do not make your children take sides.
6. I resolve to be consistent. When a major life change is happening, children need routine and consistency. Keeping in that routine provides comfort. Minimize any disruptions to the daily routine or changes to your relationships. They still need routine, consistency and structure, especially during times of stress.
7. I resolve to accept help from others. Both you and your child are going through difficult times. Friends and relatives can make role models and sounding boards for both you and your children. Talk to the child’s teachers so that the teacher can help if they notice signs of stress. If you or others close to you see signs of serious stress or emotional issues in your child, encourage your child to talk to the guidance counselor at school, teachers, friends, or arrange for counseling.
8. I resolve to not make my child the go between. Don’t have your child relay messages back and forth. These should be communicated directly to your spouse by text, e-mail, phone or through a legal professional or mediator. Don’t grill your child for information about the other parent. This puts children on edge and makes them uncomfortable. While you are welcome to ask the child if they had a good time and what fun stuff they did with the other parent, that should be the extent of your questioning. On the other hand, if the child wants to tell you about something they did with the other parent, listen and try to respond positively. Putting the child in the middle of conflict causes emotional issues, resentment, and anxiety.
9. I resolve to remember that no matter how old my children are they are still our children. Even if your children are older when you divorce, you should not drag them into the middle of the conflict. Do not confide details or enlist them as negotiators.
10. I resolve to try to take the high road. I will try to take a step back and be the bigger person. I realize that falling into the old patterns of negativity are toxic and benefit no one. I will work towards positive results and will not withhold visitation unless a child is being neglected or in danger. The children who thrive after a divorce are those who are able to have strong relationships with both parents. If you cannot be civil to each other, see if you can do a child exchange at a neutral place (school, library, etc.) or have a third party do the exchange. Try not to prolong the goodbye nor show your child if you are upset. Depicting time with the other parent as a positive thing will help your child transition easier. The same is true when they return to you. You don’t want to be disinterested, but you don’t want to grill them. You should make every effort to act the same way you would if they were at grandparents or a friend’s home overnight. Allow your child to love the other parent and their extended family.
11. I resolve to stop overthinking. It is easy to obsess on what went wrong and why.
12. I resolve to try to leave it behind and use the wisdom I have learned to move forward.
13. I resolve to be present and patient in my life and to truly appreciate those around me. Focusing on the past can be depressing and focusing on the future can cause fear and anxiety.
14. I resolve not to be too hard on myself. I will remember that this is a difficult transition and I will be kind to myself while trying not to wallow.
If you need help with your custody or placement issues, contact a family law attorney at Petit & Dommershausen, located in the Appleton area and Oshkosh.
You can reach our Fox Valley attorneys at 920-739-9900 or our Oshkosh attorneys at 920-231-0699.
Petit & Dommershausen wishes everyone a wonderful New Year.